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Monday November 6, 2006

Subject: Letter from England

First the European news:

Saddam verdict--guilty <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6117796.stm>  <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,1939847,00.html>  <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2437920,00.html>  <http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1940092,00.html

Drug testing in schools proposed. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6117786.stm

Anti-social behaviour orders <http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/crime/article1956577.ece>  <http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article1956549.ece>  <http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1939215,00.html>  <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1939778,00.html

 Bypassing the NHS for care <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1939903,00.html

Blocking doctor's referrals to consultants to save money <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1939882,00.html

Euthanasia for disabled infants <http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/health_medical/article1956609.ece

Other money-saving ideas <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,,1939549,00.html

Why science teaching is problematic in the UK <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/6115140.stm>  <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1939954,00.html

Snooping <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/leaders/story/0,,1939790,00.html

Speeding in the UK <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/magazine/story/0,,1937383,00.html

Blair's loss of faith in politics <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1939786,00.html

Economics and business <http://business.guardian.co.uk/economicdispatch/story/ 0,,1936049,00.html

Next, internal passports in America?

Illegal to exit roundabout in Coventry <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/coventry_warwickshire/6116650.stm>

UK perspective on the American elections <http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article1956547.ece

And now a few comments...

You're seen me post quite a number of critical stories about the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. The NHS is the largest bureaucratic organisation in Europe, and provides better health services than some of its counterparts (Italy, Spain, Canada, the 'system' in America) and worse than others (France and Germany). It *rations* health care--the most NHS managers are will to spend treating something is about £30,000 per person-year. It emphasizes health services, not drugs, although drugs are usually cheaper, which should suggest that it has some agendas that actively bias its decision-making.

The current Labour Government knows that if it loses control over public expenditure, it will be turned out quickly, so the UK Treasury plays lots of games to keep health spending under control. Labour ministers are rarely experienced managers, so their usual approach is a top-down style of control with shifting goals that produces positive spin in the political news, but actually performs rather poorly. Health expenditures have increased several-fold over the last ten years, but the performance of the system is about where it was in 1996, and appears close to a crisis.

This is because health costs in the UK are starting to go out of control. The population is ageing, and the internet provides access to information on diseases and disease treatments that was not available ten years ago, so many patients know more than their doctors about what ails them. Part of this has to do with how the system is staffed (cheaply). A UK general practitioner has had about five years of university training, followed by an apprenticeship--a background equivalent to that of a US nurse practitioner--so that their theoretical background is a bit weak, and a concerned lay- person can easily become more expert than that. This is producing furious conflicts when the patient knows the appropriate treatments and the GP doesn't (or the NHS is unwilling to spend the money).

Basically, if America wants to solve its medical crisis, it should not follow the UK model, which is already in crisis.

-- 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>


Rip Your Records

Yearn to hear your old albums again? Here's everything you need to digitize them and then play them anywhere you can play an MP3.

The complete story can be found here: http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,117810/article.html



I put this in View but it is important enough to repeat here:

Subj: Beware the fury of the Legions?


So: *are* we going to tell them that they've left their bones to bleach in those desert sands for nothing?

Rod Montgomery==monty@sprintmail.com

See View for comments.



One of your readers pointed out the spirited disagreement Mr. Ledeen has with the Vanity Fair article. In partial point, he says, "I opposed the military invasion of Iraq before it took place and I advocated—as I still do—support for political revolution in Iran as the logical and necessary first step in the war against the terror masters." This is particularly humorous, given the following statements he has previously made:

August, 2002 "So it's good news when Scowcroft comes out against the desperately-needed and long overdue war against Saddam Hussein and the rest of the terror masters." "However, nobody is perfect, and Scowcroft has managed to get one thing half right, even though he misdescribes it. He fears that if we attack Iraq "I think we could have an explosion in the Middle East. It could turn the whole region into a caldron and destroy the War on Terror."

One can only hope that we turn the region into a cauldron, and faster, please. If ever there were a region that richly deserved being cauldronized, it is the Middle East today. If we wage the war effectively, we will bring down the terror regimes in Iraq, Iran, and Syria, and either bring down the Saudi monarchy or force it to abandon its global assembly line to indoctrinate young terrorists."


Also August, 2002:

Question #1: Gentlemen, should we go to war against Iraq?

Ledeen: We have been at war with Iraq for years, since we performed victory interruptus at the end of the Gulf War phase. Iraq has attempted to assassinate a former American president, broken the agreement to permit international inspectors, aided anti-American terrorists both internationally and within the United States, and called for anti-American jihad with monotonous regularity. The only question is whether or not we’re prepared to finally wage the war in such a way as to win it.

Question #2: Okay, well if we are all so certain about the dire need to invade Iraq, then when do we do so?

Ledeen: Yesterday.


And, in September 2002:

"If we come to Baghdad, Damascus and Tehran as liberators, we can expect overwhelming popular support. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld put it well the other day when he encouraged his media questioners to think about the people in such places as prisoners, not as free men and women. They will join us if they believe we are serious, and they will only believe we are serious when they see us winning. Our first move must therefore show both our power and our liberating intent." http://www.aei.org/publications/filter.all,pubID.14216/pub_detail.asp

A serving officer

I told them in 2002 that it would take 500,000 troops to pacify Iraq long enough to build any kind of republican structure, and that it would probably take a generation. I also reminded them that we began military government classes, and began training military government units, in 1943 preparatory to occupation of Germany.

I was told we would not need military government units because we were not going to govern. When I asked who would govern, I was told "Iraqi nationalists." They stopped talking to (or pretending to listen to) me just after that. As far as I could tell the Iraqi Nationalist they had in mind was Chalabi, but that is inference, not revelation.

I used the last of my communications channels after the war started when I suggested that we would have to use the Iraqi army for peace keeping, using our Legions to keep the Iraqi military in line; that if we had pacification we would begin to build democratic structures at the village and tribal level where there were already institutions for this; set up courts to determine who really owned what land and property; and generally stabilize. I was thanked coldly and politely for my advice. It wasn't taken. Instead the Iraqi Army was disbanded. Young men we sent home without pay, without jobs, without job skills, took their rifles with them. The looting began accordingly.

Incompetence doesn't begin to describe what we did over there, all due to the Jacobin notion that "If we come to Baghdad, Damascus and Tehran as liberators, we can expect overwhelming popular support."  That view was reinforced by the fall of the Saddam statue. And then the looting began. I have actually seen official statements to the effect that "we didn't expect looting, and we certainly didn't expect them to steal the urinals from the latrines and the telephone wires." Astonishingly, they believed that. Read Bremer's book. It is enlightening.

My friend Greg Cochran thinks they were all insanely stupid. I don't I think they were all true believers in the Jacobin philosophy taught in every university in these United States; only most of us don't believe it even when taught it. Alas, our leaders took Trotsky's predecessors quite seriously. IDEAS HAVE CONSEQUENCES, as Richard Weaver told us a long time ago.


Subject: complex issues

On Orson Scott's Card comment, which I thought was unrelievedly silly. I think that good sense on complex issues that aren't part of people's personal experience is about as as rare as a unicorn, especially concerning on _new_ issues. . We have lots of people who think that Islamic terrorists are some kind of huge existential threat to the US: that's obviously silly. Some thought that invading Iraq was a logical response to terrorists that never came from there: just as silly, although I think in truth this is mostly people clinging to the idea that their Government, and their preferred political group, _must_ have some marbles left. But they don't, and thinking that they do is silly at this point. Then there was the idea that A. Iraq was one swift kick away from democracy, B. that democracy would be infectious and C. lack of democracy was the root of Islamic terrorism. All silly. I forgot: poverty was the root too, and that was silly also. Along with various great-game notions that we'd happily occupy Iraq and that A. they'd submit easily and B. American voters would continue to support this even if the Iraqis _didn't_ roll over and play dead - and we'd then get power and goodies. Silly. Oh, and I forgot thet freedom can't succeed in this country unless it succeeds everywhere - funny how we lucked out for the first couple of hundred years. Sheesh, when people say nonsense like that, someone should slap them in the face with an over-aged salmon. A twenty--pounder.

Judging from their actions, the key players in our Goverment no more believe in an existential Islamic threat than the man in the moon. That doesn't mean that they're not idiots - they certainly are - but on that point they're quite correct.

I have to say that the Internet has exacerbated the problem. It has made it easier for people to get just the news they want - false news, which makes them happier than true news, as it turns out. As Steve Sailer has said, it has also removed the natural filter of distance, which in the past kept most people from getting overly excited about human events that were far distant and, almost always, of no practical importance to them. Now they have to _understand_ that what happens in Yemen is insignificant - previously they simply never heard of it at all.

It is hard enough to make a long chain of logic work when you're trying - all it takes is one misstep and you're hosed. Most of the population of the US, and practically all of its governing class, are happy to embrace Rube-Goldbergian plans in which _every_ essential step is unlikely to succeed, often incredibly unlikely; plans involving whole nations of which they know and understand nothing and haven't made the slightest effort to understand. I gues that this is the same principle that allowed them to support ( for a while) a manned space program, eh?

By the way, talking about the roots of failure in Iraq. It was in the cards, of course. It was hard to see how _any_ outcome in Iraq would be worth spending a lot of money - the place had never been any threat to us, and what positive outcome could possibly be worth the hundreds of billions than even a feeble guerrilla war would cost us? it was in the cards that anyone stupid enough to invade would continue to be stupid during occupation: Bush wanted people who _believed_ in the Cause, whatever that was, that is to say idiots, and he got them.

That said, you can't say that success of some kind was impossible. Judging from people like the White Rajah of Sarawak, Clive of India, Babur the Conqueror, etc - I can imagine ways in which a single adventurer could have taken over Iraq and had the locals fighting each other for the privilege of bearing his children. It happens sometimes.

As for the idea that the big advocates of this were Jacobins, well, for the great majority of them, only if it involved pounding on Arabs. Let us be real.

I hear that Saddam has been convicted. Good precedent : I presume they convicted him of aggressive war, al la Nuremberg, yes? That's certainly the worst thing he did. No? Whyever not?

Gregory Cochran

The Salmon of Correction has been applied many times. Whap. Whap.

Alas, some still do not get it.

But we are there; we must salvage something from the wreck. I have no idea who will find a new strategy. I am certain that Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry will not.

I replied to Greg:

 You want this posted under your name?

I keep hoping I don't agree with you. In my day the people in charge had SOME good sense. I suppose my mistake has been assuming that there's still something left of what we sent to Washington to with Reagan. I haven't had much contact with anyone there except Newt since then. Prefer it that way.

But I did try to point out to those people that this wouldn't work. One result of my and other conservative efforts was the article by the egregious Frum in National Review. I used to admire Buckley a lot.

He replied:

I used to think that they had some sense too. Surely some of them did. But thinking about it, maybe that was in part due to constraints stemming from the existence of the Soviet Union. You can't go around doing damn-foolish things freely when you have a real enemy, especially when world opinion is a part of the playing field. Moreover, maybe the boys in the smoke-filled room would not have chosen an utter pinhead for President if they thought it meant risking personal vaporization. I say this but of course JFK was just about as much of a fool as our current minimum leader. Well, maybe not _that_ much of a fool.....

I have yet to convince Greg that Jacobinist ideals are taken seriously by anyone. He is certain no one can be that stupid.


Subject: Republic versus Empire


I must confess that before I began following your site, I gave very little thought to questions about Republics and Empires. History was something that I took in High School, a subject to largely be forgotten about as I occupied myself with career matters. For me, the struggle for economic survival hasn't allowed that much time for such philosophical musings. I suspect that my experience mirrors that of the general public. Try to have a debate about whether we will be an Empire or a Republic, and I suspect that you will mostly get dazed and confused looks from the average man. It is certainly not the kind of subject that plays well in 30-second political sound bites. The charge: "my opponent is a reckless Jacobian....." will not inspire fear in the hearts of most of the electorate. Given what has already happened with Iraq, I have to wonder if even our president, with his penchant for leading on the basis of religious faith and gut instinct, has much awareness of such distinctions. So even if you are right that we need to make this decision first, I have a hard time believing the subject will ever rise above the level of academic punditry, with only the choir paying attention to the preacher.

CP, Connecticut

Well, someone must discuss such matters. Ideas have consequences. Those who surrounded the President were able to prevail because the president has heard such ideas all his life. He is not uneducated. The problem is that those who educate believe wrong ideas; abandoning the intellectual debate to them is precisely the way to lose.

Ideas have consequences; and as Possony used to tell me, either you believe in the value of rational discussion or you don't, and that's whether you are teaching political science, running political campaigns, being deputy mayor of a large city, or make a career as a writer or journalist.

We will make the decision, whether by discussion or by default.


Subj: _Vanity Fair_ vs the Neocons - the rebuttal continues

The Serving Officer who disputed Ledeen's rebuttal of the _Vanity Fair_ piece might consider this:


which is consistent with my memory of Ledeen's general preference for supporting a more gradual but relentless campaign against all the Terror Masters, rather than a "Big Bang" overthrow of Saddam by US+allied military forces alone. (I think the description of the event as a "Big Bang" is due to Thomas P.M. Barnett of _The Pentagon's New Map_ fame.)

Note the subtle distinction between invading to set up a secure zone for the development of a government of national liberation and invading to overthrow the regime with foreign troops at one blow.

There is also a collection of all the neocons' rebuttals at


Vanity Unfair

For myself, I think the belief that *any* approach would have produced a clean result is out of touch with reality. We had, and we have still, only a choice among evils, and we *have* to expect to make mistake after mistake after mistake. Machiavelli's Principle of Human Mediocrity guarantees that it will be so. Get over it, and get on with it.


Discourses on Livy: Book 1 Chapter XXVII

Rod Montgomery==monty@sprintmail.com

Well -- yes. The usual military principle is that if you think you can do it with a regiment, send two divisions. It will cost less in the long run. Rumsfeld thought he could do it on the cheap.

Hello Dr Pournelle.

We agree on a number of issues concerning Iraq, and disagree on others. However, the point you keep making about how dumb it was to disband the Iraqi Army is just not correct. My understanding, as I'll admit I wasn't there yet when that decision was made, is that this was simply a recognition of the facts on the ground. All that was left were a few senior officers that nobody could think of a use for. The boys had simply gone home. To support this, remember the war. Who did we fight? Well, lots of Republican Guard types from assorted spinoff organizations, Saddam Fedayeen, etc. The Iraqi Army put up a half hearted struggle for Basra, and then basically didn't play again. Why would they return to the barracks after that? So they could sit around and wait for us to start reforming them so they could fix their nation?

Remember the Fallujah Brigade? We gave the veterans of that army a chance to build their own unit and secure a city. I thought it was a stupid idea, I cannot defend it and had no effective way to oppose it from where I was, but the result should at least hint that whatever the pre-war plan might have been, putting that army into action under our orders wasn't going to happen.

Another Serving Officer

It is my understanding that at some point we had offered the Iraqi generals "an honorable place in the rebuilding of Iraq" and at that point they still had control of most of their troops. Whether taht was still the case when Bremer disbanded the army I don't know; but it is my impression that we could have paid the Iraqis to contribute to keeping order, pensioned off the Baathists and replaced them from below with experienced people, and kept Iraq going as a going concern.

If it never was possible to use the Iraqi Army then we never had a chance; or that was my view. We could have done a chevauchée in the fine manner of the Hundred Years War, but not much else. Or we could have partitioned Iraq and given part to Syria, part to Iran, and part to Kuwait; but that would not have been very wise.

Either the Iraqi Army could have been used, or we were drawing dead given the number of troops we sent. I thought that at the time.


Subject: Iraqi Withdrawal and the Fury of the Legions

Dr. Pournelle Having spoken to Marines and soldiers who have served in Iraq and reading the Washington Post article on page A15 of 4 November, I must caution those who advocate a swift withdrawal from Iraq. There is a reason why re-enlistment rates are so high and recruiting rates have not dropped as dramatically as others have suggested, we have a inspired generation who recognize the threat and want to fight Islamic Fascism overseas and not in the United States. The legions will go along with a withdrawal, they are loyal to the constitution... but to a point. If those who advocate a defensive strategy are wrong (and I believe them to be so) and another 911 or worse occurs on American soil, the republic will cease to exist. The legions will not sit by idly and risk their families and comrades for a society they view as becoming more and more mislead (by the media) decadent, and degraded. Korematsu will pail in comparison to what will occur following such an incident when a socially isolated military lashes out.

I disagree with Dr. Cochran regarding the threat posed by Islamic Fascism. An isolationist policy will not succeed, nor will the defensive/law enforcement strategy of the democrats. There is a reason why the United States Military doctrine calls for offensive operations. Reading the Post article and E-mails floating around, I see the Marines and soldiers serving in Iraq have the tenacity and will to win, does the United States? Perhaps new operational level strategies need to be employed, but retreating does not look like an effective strategy.

Respectfully, A Serving Officer

We can all hope that will is enough, but making a democracy of a bucket of scorpions is never easy or cheap, and may take more commitment than we have. I am glad I don't have to decide what to do.


Subject: Mr. Cochran's Comments on Card's Column

Greg wrote: "We have lots of people who think that Islamic terrorists are some kind of huge existential threat to the US: that's obviously silly."

I rather suspect that he might encounter some opposition to that statement from friends and family members of the nearly 3,000 killed on September 11th, 2001. Perhaps that doesn't meet Greg's criterion for a serious threat, but I suspect it does to them.

In addition, I for one have little doubt that given access to nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, the Islamic terrorists would promptly use them.

Those are serious enough threats for me.

Those people are not going away. They need killing. Iraq, in my view, is a good place to do it. To the extent that we are drawing Islamic jihadists from around the world to that area of operations, I'm inclined to think that's a good thing.

Killing terrorists, if that's all we were doing, clearly will not lead in the long term to control of Islamic terrorism. In the long run, the superiority of western civilization should abate the threat, as it has in the United States, where a home-grown Islamic terrorist threat has not been much in evidence.

In the short term, killing terrorists is a useful activity.

Best regards, -- Lindy Sisk

So it's a question of strategy: are we making more enemies than we are eliminating? I think there is no question but that cultural weapons of mass destruction -- iPod, rock music, blue jeans, etc.  will bring down the Iranian mullahs. Their people are tired of them already. Will a US incursion into Iran hasten that or unite potential friends with the mullahs?

Regarding Saddam, the issue is, was he contained? He had little to do with 9/11 by any evidence I have seen.

One strategy: you hurt us, we do a chevauchee through your land. You as ruler will not survive. We do not care what government replaces you. If the new government offends us we will do it again. Have a nice day. Another: you hurt us, we will come remake your country, without regard to what it cost us or how long it takes.

Which is more credible?

If we are going to stay in Iraq we need to begin military government training and recruiting a long term constabulary.


Dear Dr. Pournelle,

In response to Eric Oppen's proposal to institute a draft type system for police you wrote, "There might be a way to implement such things, particularly in less densely populated areas, but it would require an entire change in attitude about self government and self reliance, and responsibilities of citizenship..."

It seems to me, if enough people had the necessary attitudes on ,"Self government and self reliance, and responsibilities of citizenship," the police draft would probably be unnecessary. I doubt a self reliant, responsible populace would need a large standing army of police to begin with. I think the real question is, could enough of our nation's citizens ever adopt the required attitudes ("Self government and self reliance, and responsibilities of citizenship")?

Would most of them even want to?

Claud Addicott

There was a time when we had those attitudes. And we would not have needed to draft police because posses would be sufficient to expand the police at need. But that was a long time ago.







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Tuesday,  November 7, 2006

I do not have my final setup, but I will get mail in tonight.

Subject: the numbers

To your correspondents who answered me. I gather there's a new way of doing threat analysis, one that that doesn't consider things like traditional military power, economic strength, numbers, or technical abiliity.

Tell me more.

Gregory Cochran

I would have thought that will is important but capability perhaps more so. Of course with enough money you can buy all kinds of mischief. On the other hand, $300 billion buys a lot of Navy, a great deal of security ability, and some energy independence. The less oil we buy, the less the enemies have to buy mischief with.

It is hard to see how an invasion can be mounted unless we give visas and provide transportation, or simply do not enforce the borders. Border enforcement would appear to be cheaper than deployment in the Middle East.


Subject: More re: Cochran


It has nothing to do with apparent ability. It has everything to do with announced intent.

I say again, your friend is a fool, or at the very least too smart for his own good.

Kent Peterson


Subject: Global Climate change

Hi Jerry,

An interesting article and study that attempt to disprove global climate change theories. I haven't read all of either yet, seem very sensible so far.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/11/05/nosplit/nwarm05.xml <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/11/05/nosplit/nwarm05.xml


Peter Cupit


Subject: Global warming debunked (part 1/2)

Global warming debunked (part 1/2)

Hi Jerry,

Suspect you will receive several copies of this:



Ray Whidden

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada where current temperatures are 5°C below average with first snowfall 2 weeks earlier than usual.


It May Come as a Shock

In ancient Rome, patients with unbearable head pain were sometimes treated with jolts from the electricity-producing black torpedo fish, or electric ray.

Scribonius Largus, physician to Emperor Claudius, was a staunch advocate of the remedy. ³To immediately remove and permanently cure a headache, however long-lasting and intolerable, a live black torpedo is put on the place which is in pain, until the pain ceases and the part grows numb,² he wrote in the first century.

Electric fish have long disappeared from the medical armamentarium. And patients with headaches are most frequently treated with pharmaceuticals.

But recently, electrical or electromagnetic devices that hark back to the head-zapping torpedo fish have come into vogue among the country¹s most prominent migraine researchers.








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Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Subject: Now what about NATO?

Hi Jerry, you asked:

>On that score: why are we in the entangling alliance called NATO? What now is its purpose?

I assume you are questioning the US utility of the institution. What would happen if the US said, forget NATO, now go defend yourself?

As any large alliance, NATO is many things to many countries. Removing NATO as THE security framework in Europe would make a lot of countries reexamen their defense and foreign policy, with some of the results being highly detrimental to US interests.

The baltic states and some east european members will feel highly insecure in the medium and long run, and so feel compelled to make greater political consessions to Russia, to avoid being engulfed by Russia (again) in the future.

Germany will have to question their defense policy, including the need for own nuclear weapons, if the US nuclear umbrella disappears. Either build it themselves (and making other european nations very nervous) or getting joint command over the French nuclear arms (which will deposit German foreign policy in Paris). Neither is in the US interest.

Italy, Poland and Turkey might also go nuclear, if Germany does.

France would be happy. Its a dream come true. France will defend all of Europe - for a price (political that is). It will give France the scale to build a military rivalling the US and put them politically in the center of european security.

England would have to choose between the US and France - if the US still sees a need for that "Special relationship".

My own country (Denmark) has changed its military from being concentrated on territorial defense into a much smaller military capable of participation in NATO or US operations worldwide (Danish troops are now in both Bosnia, Iraq and Afganistan). That military is only functional under the NATO infrastructure. If NATO disappears, Denmark will have the following options: 1) Participate in a US only structure (politically impossible, as it will effectively deposit danish policy in Washington), 2) Be member of the French security arragement, i.e. the EU military. Though a EU member, Denmark does not today participate the EU military (France will mostly decide danish policy, but with a small hope of getting a little influence). 3) Return the military to pure territorial defence, and no longer being able to participate in solving international security problems.

In disbanding NATO, France and Russia will be the winners. And Germany will have to go with the French, or rearm bigtime (tip: They will go with French - as with the Euro). Britain will be much weaker without US influence in Europe, and eastern Europe will have to consider Russias interests much closer.

Is that in the interest of the US?


Bo Andersen

I do not think that NATO or any other entangling alliance that requires us to be involved in the territorial affairs of Europe is good policy for the US. NATO made sense with the Russians poised to go to the Rhine. Europe is perfectly capable of defending itself now.


Subject: Climate chaos? Don't believe it

Christopher Monckton's "debunking" of the Stern report & global warming. Nice detail of the middle age warm period and how "they" abolished it to get the misleading hockey stick - check out the comparison graph halfway down.


"In 1988, James Hansen, a climatologist, told the US Congress that temperature would rise 0.3C by the end of the century (it rose 0.1C), and that sea level would rise several feet (no, one inch). "

-- Ben Baylis (ben@velvetbug.com)

Do you think I am a megalomaniac ? Just give me a ZX81, and I'll control the world !


Better late than never:

Subject: X-Prize Cup Report

I went to both days of the event. First the good news: On Friday, over a thousand grade school children attended. Hopefully, some will be inspired to get into science or engineering. The rest was disappointed me. The announcers repeatedly said that a purpose was to develop new technologies. I did not see the Tether Challenge--build a tether and cannot comment directly. NASA's web site said there were 4 entries and 3 were disqualified. I don't think the one team not disqualified won any money. I watched the Power Beam Challenge-climb a tether using beamed power. There were college teams, high schools, and private individuals. No one qualified to win the money. I did not see anything that looked like new technology. Only one team entered the Vertical Lander Challenge--25 kilogram payload, 50 meter vertical assent, 100 meter translation, total of 90 seconds hover, land on the landing pad; then a return flight all in 2.5 hours. Armadillo Aerospace tried 3 times over the two days. Hard landing on the first try--had to rebuild the rocket overnight. On the 2d try they did not land on the pad. On the 3 try they landed on the pad, refueled, but crashed on takeoff for the return trip. The rocket is an alcohol/LOX engine using gas pressure to feed fuel and propellant. Injector heads were aluminum with a graphite, carbon fiber-wound chamber. Of course I compared these flights to the DC-X that flew about 50 miles away over a decade ago. I was surprised that no "industry" teams entered to win bragging rights on the back cover of Aviation Week and Space Technology. I don't think the NASA prizes are big enough (presently 200 to 300 K$) to fuel development of new technology. Several companies had exhibits. Everything is 3 to 5 years out. To add to my depression, while there I read that Congress has prohibited DARPA from awarding cash prizes for the follow-on to the Grand Challenge (the Urban Challenge).



Interesting site concerning energy "sources", Dr. Pournelle.


What I've read so far seems accurate within the limits of "lay" language.

Charles Brumbelow


Subject: Posse Comitatus, et al

Dr. Pournelle,

I'm not really a conspiracy guy, but I'm beginning to see rats in the cellar. Do you suppose we are being set up for something really different?

<http://sianews.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=3023>  And

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/10/18/211033/23 <http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/10/18/211033/23

These seem to be part of a pattern, do they not, or am I paranoid these days?

John Witt

Senior Mechanical Engineer

Insufficient data


Subject: Count the ballots

Before the election there were projections that the absentee ballots would rise to about 20 million (25%) of the total vote up from the old (pre 2000 ) days when only the military and people who worked voted absentee, and were less than 5%.

With numbers like that, and Republicans favored by 94% of the military, it would seem that no election could be considered assured unless it was a landslide with the Democrat being at least 55% of vote.

Add to that the restriction in many states that the absentee counting is not to begin until Thurs or even next week, plus the mail time for military votes to arrive (votes could still be mailed yesterday).

So the basic question arises. When did we stop counting all the votes before declaring the winner.

Earl Smith

Have they not been counted? Will they change Virginia?


Subject: You may be interested in this document from the Cato Institute from August 1991

Good morning, Jerry,

It is fairly long, but adds an extensive historical context to a number of the points that you have made:

Policy Analysis

"Ancient History": U.S. Conduct in the Middle East Since World War Il and the Folly Of Intervention

by Sheldon L. Richman, senior editor at the Cato Institute.


It does point out that Truman and Ike supported intervention in the Middle East in order to contain Communism. An interesting tidbit of history: the “big three” met in Iran during WWII without bothering to ask their hosts if they could do so.

Best regards,


Woodinville, WA


Subject: Why study history?

Dr Pournelle

The Texas Legislature (The Lege) answered this question 50 years ago.

The problem: The member of The Lege were shocked to discover that a number of Texans succumbed to Communist propaganda and defected in the Korean War. In response, they sought a way to inculcate citizenship into young Texans.

The solution: To develop a deep sense of citizenship in young Texans, The Lege mandated that to receive state monies a school must instruct its students in history at every grade level, K-12. Because even private schools in Texas receive state monies, this effectively meant all schools. Colleges and universities in Texas also require four semesters of history. We have 50 years with this experiment; the results please us.

The history need not be exclusively Texas history. In fact, schools prefer American history and the history of Western Civilization.

Out-of-staters think Texans obsessed with history. We think they know nothing about their roots.

BTW The Lege does not dictate any school's history curriculum. It just says the school must have one.


h lynn keith

PS How many of your readers know of the Texas Navy's exploits under Commodore Edwin Moore, the only commander ever to defeat steamships with sailing vessels?


Subject: Cochran and his critics

Cochran and his critics seem to be talking past each other.

I take "existential threat" (Cochran's words) to mean "threat to the existence of the United States as a functional nation, a unified whole." Given that meaning, I think Greg is perfectly correct--neither al-Qaeda nor any other terrorist group or oil-rich state is an existential threat.

But Cochran's critics are talking about "serious" threats. An organization that can pull off a 9/11 sized operation every few years is a serious threat, but not an existential one. Pretty much every Gulf state can become a serious threat to us by this definition.

The only current existential threat to the US is Russia (ICBMs). China might be such a threat in ten years.

Question for the group, then: Did we make an error by invading a nation to pre-empt a serious, non-existential threat?

Steve Setzer

I pretty well agree with your analysis. And it is a good question.


Subject: border enforcement & threat analysis

" Border enforcement would appear to be cheaper than deployment in the Middle East. [JEP]"

Ya think?

as for Mr. Petersen, who says " It has nothing to do with apparent ability. It has everything to do with announced intent. "

he must think that weasels are just as dangerous as lions. Experience does not support his position.

Gregory Cochran



Subject: Comment

It looks like the checks and balances designed into the system are back in place. I suspect a lot of people (and the market) will breathe a sigh of relief.

About Iraq: I doubted from the beginning that military sideshows would be effective in dealing with Islamic extremism. Afghanistan at least had the result of eliminating a regime that embraced al Qaeda, but the Iraqi adventure has been irrelevant to the real mission. We should have been using the same resources to close down the terrorists. We need to regain our freedom of action before we can make progress.

-- Harry Erwin, PhD "If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." (Catherine Aird)

Let us hope that the checks and balances work.


Subj: GMLRS - Ground-launched THOTH by another name?


ARTILLERY: Smart Rocket Passes Trial by Combat

Rod Montgomery==monty@sprintmail.com



Subject: Germany is disarming

Dear Jerry,

Europe may be perfectly capable of defending itself, but it appears to lack the political willpower to do so. Soon it may also lack the military firepower to do anything significant. Germany is perhaps the most extreme example of unilateral disarmament in progress in the world today.

This article is over a year old, but it is still relevant:


"Since unification, plans were made for four rounds of Bundeswehr reductions between 1989 and 2010, which should create an Army of 250,000 soldiers. Of them, 55,000 should be conscripts — in an era when the first conscript generation is already retired.

This transformation is supposed to produce a mix of forces, which would include 35,000 as intervention forces, 70,000 intended for stabilization operations and 106,000 conducting support operations. Under this plan, the Army will consist of five divisions and 12 brigades. There will only be six armored battalions left.

How dramatic the Army’s transformation really is can be seen in Structure 2010, to be adopted as of 2007. The service will reduce its fleet of main battle tanks from 2,528 to 350, infantry fighting vehicles from 2,077 to 410, artillery pieces from 1,055 to 120 and helicopters from 530 to 240.

Within the Air Force, the same radical reductions are planned. The number of combat aircraft is to be reduced from 451 to 262 in 2015 — about 180 Eurofighter Typhoon and 85 Tornado aircraft. There will be three Luftwaffe divisions instead of four.

The Navy has managed, with the exception of the naval fighter-bomber, to retain all capabilities even though it has fewer platforms. In 2006, the Navy takes on a new fleet structure. The current five flotillas will be merged into two operational ones. The main platforms will include about 12 frigates, five or more K130 corvettes, six U212 submarines, fewer than 20 mine warfare units, three task force supply vessels and four tenders, 30 MH-90 helicopters and eight P-3C maritime patrol aircraft.

It is an open secret that the three-way split of the Bundeswehr into intervention, stabilization and support forces was a fig leaf for the de facto halving of the Army. Further, many issues are still unsettled. For instance, the Luftwaffe’s acquisition of a third Eurofighter Tranche is not yet set. The total Eurofighter fleet could fall to between 120 and 140 aircraft rather than the planned 180."

If Germany has only 350 tanks and 410 infantry fighting vehicles in four years, then the Germans will barely be able to police their own country in the event of civil unrest. A larger scale German version of the Muslim riots in France might overstretch their military. Riots in multilpe cities could render their national government impotent. I'm no soldier, but I imagine that a few thousand fanatical Muslims with RPGs could disable half of their armored force if it was spread out across the nation to suppress riots.

There are historical parallels here with British unilateral disarmament during the period between the two world wars.

Eric Krug





CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


read book now


Thursday, November 9, 2006

Subject: did we err?

" Question for the group, then: Did we make an error by invading a nation to pre-empt a serious, non-existential threat?

Steve Setzer "

We 're getting closer, but I predict we'll never get close. Not only was Saddam's Iraq not a serious threat to the life and/or existence of the United States, it was no threat to us at all. They weren't sponsoring anti-American terrorism and in fact were deeply hostile to the kind of radical Wahabism that that Onama Bin Laden represented. And they weren't suicidal.

Anyone who followed international news was aware of this. Now, was it an error to pre-empt a threat that was not only non-existential, but non-existent? At a cost of hundreds of billions, with a predictably highly negative outcome?

Gregory Cochran

Since I was quite publicly opposed to the Iraqi invasion to begin with, there's not a lot I can add here. I thought it obvious that Saddam was not much of a threat, and that a few billion dollars would buy enough intelligence and security measures to neutralize whatever threat he might be; and that invading Iraq would cause more problems than ever it would solve.

I confess I did think there might be a Machiavellian scheme here: Invade Iraq, go hell for leather after the oil fields, secure the fields with as much deadly force as would be required; pump a LOT of oil, and use the revenue to support Western allies among those who would now be contending for rulership of Iraq; and pump so much oil that the world price would be $25/bbl or less. The Dow would hit 15,000, the US economy would book, Bush would look like a genius, and the whole thing wouldn't cost much compared to the increased revenue from the boom it would generate. And we'd have oil revenue to spend playing The Great Game in Mesopotamia.

I thought that then, and my objections were to the possibly corrupting influence of imperial politics on a republic. Little did I know that no one had any intention of pursuing such a strategy. It may not even have been thought of.

I have trouble believing that the Texas Oil People sold the United States of America in order to get oil north of $60/bbl, thus enriching the terrorists as well as themselves. I have trouble believing that anyone is that evil.

And now I am back to writing Inferno.


Subject: The Return Of The Zeppelin 

18 hours LA to New York, with tenis courts and casino, all at 8,000 feet. Well, ok, maybe!!!


An airship builder must possess an innate optimism, but even skeptics have some reason to think that Mr. Pasternak and his 20 employees are on to something. Armed with $3 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Defense and purchase order agreements from shippers and investment companies in China and Germany, Mr. Pasternak is building a so-called hybrid airship that stays aloft through a combination of gas buoyancy and traditional aerodynamics.


I loved those ships in  the sky..



I am starting to have trouble reading your powderpuff blue links. Any chance that you might darken them up a bit. You are a tad older than I am so I am surprized you have not noticed.

In my analog model of the transition to empire the Islamofascist have pretty well established themselves as the Mediterranean pirates and Hillary looks more and more like Pompey the Great. Wes Clark is definitely not Caesar, but I am getting some vibes that Chuck Schummer would like to be. The main regret is that I am likely to be at ambient temperature before these entertaining questions resolve themselves.

Please keep my suggestion about Tom Crapper and Nixon in mind as Inferno2 proceeds. Let me ponder your other problem.

Val Augstkalns

Link colors don't bother me. Interesting analogies.


Subject: weasels and lions 

"he must think that weasels are just as dangerous as lions. "

There are fewer lions and more weasels every day. They may not bite as hard but they can sure make a mess of the chicken coop!

-- --- Al Lipscomb




CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday, November 10. 2006 

Subject: Another plan for Iraq

Is this inspired genius or raving lunacy? http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HJ24Ak01.html

CP, Connecticut

As I have repeatedly said, we must first answer the question: are we a republic primarily concerned with our own affairs and defending our own borders, minding our own business and avoiding both entangling alliances and meddling in the territorial disputes of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East; or are we a world power with imperial interests?

This is not a trivial question. Republics cannot BE world powers, for the simple reason that republics are not capable of long term policies without victories and successes. We cannot sustain a trooper a day meatgrinder for a decade; much less thirty casualties a week, even though that is far fewer than we routinely lose to traffic. Yet that may well be the cost of a long term commitment overseas.

Our intervention in Iraq was not well done, but one reason it was not well done was domestic politics: the President could not simply say "It is in our interest to send in a punitive expedition, grab the oil, and destabilize that regime." Whether or not anyone believed it -- my friend Greg Cochran insists I am a naive fool for thinking anyone did -- the invasion was cloaked in the language of Jacobinism, and we went in and acted as if we believed in the Jacobin ideals. We did that because the very liberal elements in the nation, including those in the press, insisted that we must have more noble motives (or else it was all a criminal conspiracy). This nation doesn't react well to that kind of internal pressure. Republics need national unity to be able to pursue wars; and in fact, most republics are not comfortable with small wars, limited wars, wars of expediency: Republics expect and react best to WARRE. Over there. Make the world safe for democracy. Jacobinism can sometimes substitute: Jacobinism is noble, and fighting to implant democracy and spread freedom may bring national unity. Of course Jacobinism as a public goal makes it very difficult to pursue realistic foreign goals.

It is my belief that if we wish to become a world power with imperial interests we will inevitably be transformed into the kind of nation that can BE a world power with imperial interests. One of those transformations is willingness to put up with a great deal of failure without turning to criminalization of those failures. The recent muttering about prosecuting Rumsfeld comes to mind. Think about the consequences of those muttering, and what may come of it.

Now I note that a female general has decided to go to Germany to testify in a criminal charge against the Secretary of Defense. Think on the consequences of such things.

Enough on topical matters: my point is that we need to think carefully about what should be our role in the world. And we must decide fairly overwhelmingly: competent empires cannot spend a great deal of time catering to the Old Republic and its ideals. Cicero had no place in Caesar's new world order even though Caesar himself wished mightily that there would be. Mark Anthony and Octavian were made of sterner stuff.

If we decide that we are a world power with imperial interests, and we are willing to undergo the domestic transformations that will come from that, then this essay shows the kind of thinking we must indulge in; and this is a very important essay. He is not an inspired genius, he is merely a realist with a sense of history. He may be in error, but he is not in error in his fundamental ways of thinking.

Of course the fact that he says what I said about going into Iraq and what Israel ought to have done in the Lebanon may color my thinking...


Subject: A Draft for Cops and 'Are Cops Constitutional'

Jerry, Further to the letter last week contemplating the attitude of cops versus civilians, and proposing what amounts to a draft for service as police, I thought that the linked article by Roger Roots "Are Cops Constitutional" would be of interest.


It explores the Constitutional history of public police and the power of arrest in light of the Fourth Amendment. (A hat tip to the Volokh Conspiracy for the pointer ..about 2 years ago.)

Geoff Newbury

I have not had time to read the essay you point to, but I am not sure I have a lot to learn. I know something of the history of law and law enforcement in the United States. There was never any constitutional question about the Fourth Amendment applying to the States. It didn't. There was a legal case much later when a US Marshal bodyguarding a judge shot a would-be assassin. Did Federal officers have any such power.

I did open the essay but when I found The Constitution contains no explicit provisions for criminal law enforcement.11 Nor did the constitutions of any of the several states contain such provisions at the time of the Founding. I saw no point in continuing. It may come as a surprise to the writer of that essay, but there were sheriffs in England and sheriffs in the Colonies. It is true enough that "private prosecution" was fairly prevalent; but that's true even for England until fairly recent times. Much prosecution of minor crime (as opposed to those prosecuted by indictment of a Grand Jury) was done by the constable as complainant. It was that way in many of the states until fairly recently. Think about the phrase "press charges".

These are matters for the states.

The Federal Government has criminalized a very great many activities that ought not be, and I would certainly support a constitutional amendment that required Federal authorities to obtain the assistance and cooperation of the local sheriff before conducting any raids or making arrests other than at the borders (with a mechanism for going to the State Attorney General if the local sheriff refused cooperation); but I fear the thrust of this essay is to attempt to prove too much.

It is unlikely that we will ever have a return to small, effective, and cheap self government; but it is well to keep in mind that what man has done, man can aspire to.


On Rumsfeld:

Dear Jerry:

I have to respectfully take issue with the idea that Rumsfeld built the current U.S. Army. He's mostly responsible for its ruin, along with the rest of his gang of incompetent wishful thinkers. Our Army has rebuilt itself about once a decade since World War II. It is always thinking two or three decades into the future and always looking not just for new technology, but ways to improve the human component. I've been an observer of this all my life, being the son of an Army doctor whose legacy is the unprecedented survival rate of wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It takes a lot of people to run an Army. Those people spend a lot of time in a career going to school and training. West Point trains officers who might make good Lieutenant Colonels someday. Once on duty, higher rank than that can be attained by performing well and then graduating from Command and Staff School and the War College, and if you want to wear stars on your shoulders those shoulders will probably have a Ranger tab, regardless of your branch, and you will have airborne and/or pilot's badges on your chest...and you will have a Ph. D. or the equivalent. I'm sure that Rumsfeld though that all terribly wasteful, but modern war is a very complex enterprise requiring very intelligent, tough, people who can make very fast, accurate decisions. The heart of the Army is not all the high tech gizmos, but the people who serve in it; and that especially includes the NCOs as well as the commissioned officers. Such people can not be produced on an assembly line like widgets. They must be nurtured and cherished and brought along slowly.

McNamera and his "whiz kids" never got this during the Vietnam War. Rumsfeld makes McNamera look like a genius. His idea of "transformation" is to run the military like a business corporation, which is rather like putting gym socks on a duck. They don't fit and they look really bad. And they get in the duck's way when he walks. The real problem here is that this administration has put people in charge of the military who view it with utter contempt and don't listen to all of the very smart, well trained, and thoughtful people that comprise a think tank unlike any seen before in history.

They have broken the Army to the point where there is now a program that pays U.S Navy personnel a bonus of $40,000 simply to switch services and retrain for the Army. I said from the beginning that Iraq would be a Tar Baby. It has become like that old joke; "You can't win, you can't break even...you can't even quit the game." I am not happy to be right about this, and I will not gloat about the current election results because the heavy lifting has just begun.

The only solution is increase the size of the Army and Marines for as many years as needed to field a constabulary that will suppress the insurrection and stand up a real government in Iraq. That was ten years in Germany and they are reasonable people. That means an Army double or triple the size of this and that means a draft and the taxes needed to pay for it all without bankrupting the nation. Beyond that we need to turn our gaze back to Latin America and Africa, where the Chinese are making inroads against our interests.

And we need people in the civilian leadership of this nation who can look beyond their own narrow interests and the next election to a strategy that will carry us through the next century.


Francis Hamit

I said too much when I said they built the new army; but they did preside over a change to a smaller, faster, leaner and more high tech army. That was not easy. Then the Iraq war came and they drained the real army in an attempt to keep the war looking cheaper and use real soldiers as constabulary. That never works, and won't work now.

In that sense I agree.

If we are to stay in Iraq we need a constabulary; and if we are to be able to defend ourselves in the real world, we will need to rebuild the real army that knows how to break things and kill people.

As to the mechanisms of change, I think a small part of it may be that The Strategy of Technology, by Possony and Pournelle, was used as a textbook in all three service academies many years ago...



Strategy of Technology in pdf format:


Subject: Re: The Army and how it was built

Well Rummy got shown the door this morning and a very unhappy Bob Gates has been persuaded to step in and clean up the mess. It's probably a big cut in pay for him since he has to give up not just the Presidency of Texas A&M but several corporate board seats. Look for him to do a wholesale housecleaning at DOD and we may see some old familiar faces being brought in. Bill Odom for one, and Bobby Ray Inman for another (another Texan). Maybe even Claudia Kennedy as the first female Secretary of the Army. I have a lot of confidence in Gates. He really is an Eagle Scout at heart.

McCain came out for a larger Army and Marine Corps. Even if we remain a republic and not an empire, the current situation seems to mandate a return to an 18 division Army and a four division Marine Corps, but we can probably get by with a 400 ship Navy. The new environment is all Special Ops. I met a sailor on this cruise we went on last month. !5 years in and with a new kind of rating in the kind of work that [a petty officer mutual friend] did in 'Nam. The Brown Water Navy is it's own division now. This guy was very interesting . 15 years in and plans to make his 30. Likes playing poker.

It will get better now.

Francis Hamit


Subject: Dr. Cochran's fallacy 


I respectfully submit that Dr. Cochran's fallacy is the following: In an era when 100 people with enough money and the proper knowledge can deliver a terrorist nuclear attack that can kill 100,000 people, or a biological attack that would wipe out a nation, we have to worry about them. It doesn't matter if their 999,999,900 co-religionists are just waiting for them to get out of the way so they can buy Danish porn and American pop music. The trick, as Mr. Card correctly points out, is to remove the 100 without infuriating the other billion or so.

The numbers are, of course, not accurate, but the real numbers make the problem worse, not better. As I believe you've pointed out, if the correct number is 1 in a thousand committed fanatics, that is still a million suicide bombers and WMD developers.

Mr. Boortz links Dan Simmon's April polemic for election day, saying that he hadn't seen it before, and particularly quotes the "attack on aviation" analogy that Mr. Card denigrated.. http://www.dansimmons.com/news/message/2006_04.htm   , and the link appears to be saturated this morning after Mr. Boortz's link).

Jim Woosley

Yes. Indeed.


"The X-Files have been closed down."


-- Roland Dobbins

Hoo hah.


Subject: A new subscriber, and a thought for the future

Hello. I've been an on and off reader for around a year now. I've been planning to subscribe to your site for a couple of weeks; after reading your reasoned and reasonable take on the elections, I finally did it. Thanks for the service you provide, and the coherent view.

Anyway, I've been concerned about the shape of the future for much of my life. Since I was in elementary school, I've thought that the world was in a race between terrorism and bureaucracy: which would become the dominant threat to humanity first? Until September 11, I always thought that bureaucracy would win that race -- and hoped that the critical time would be long after I'd left this world. Now, it may be that both will come on with a vengeance. Perhaps not, but there are plenty of troubling signs.

Like many people, I've struggled with what can be done about it -- apart from living my own life as well as I can. Recently, some thoughts have been coming together.

The world may be in for some very rough times. If so, then enough things are already in motion that little could be done to stop it. But a lot can be done to cushion the blow, and speed the recovery. It brings to mind Isaac Asimov's _Foundation_ novels, in a way. Certainly, we don't have such a precise tool as Psychohistory, or people who can influence thought, or a distant planet to run to, but some ideas can be adapted.

Suppose we assume that the central government is too cumbersome and self-serving to respond well to the threats we face. If a group (or groups) of private individuals were to gather the capability to pick up some of the legitimate duties of government, if the need were to arise, then a wide variety of problems could be mitigated. For example, if even a few groups in and around New Orleans had stockpiled emergency supplies, had developed redundant communications and transportation routes, and perhaps most importantly, had trained in police support, then many of the problems could have been prevented -- all without any additional government help. Each community group could decide what to support, on an individual basis -- small, local, and private: about as distant conceptually from central government bureaucracy as you can get.

This seems to be along the lines of your call for a return of Civil Defense, but as a purely private enterprise.

The idea's not yet fully-formed, but it seems like it would be appealing to those of us who see the threat, and feel the need to do something, but don't know what to do. Since this idea, as it's been growing, has given me some hope for a plan of action, I thought I'd share it.

Once again, thanks for the work you do.

-- Steve Carabello

The problem with trying to do as private action what ought to be an integral part of self-government is that governments and bureaucracies are jealous. Think Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy: those in charge of the police are more interested in the police organization than in preventing crime. Those in charge of FEMA are more interested building FEMA than in coping with disasters. The beauty of mostly local Civil Defense with most local volunteers is that there's not a lot of bureaucracy to control and thus not a lot of incentive for empire builders. That doesn't mean there won't be such. Volunteer organizations are often refuges for those who want authority. But if set up right, this is a way to make use of that ambition. A disaster gives the local Civil Defense commander a chance to shine, show off, get public acclaim, and with luck it will only happen once in his life.


Subject: A thought about the recent election

In the recent election campaign, Phil Angelides tried to get elected without ever telling anybody what his plans were, or his stand on any issue. He did this by trying to persuade people to vote for him because they (supposedly) hated Governor Schwarzenegger. This led to the spectacle of a Democrat being buried in a landslide by a Republican in a blue state. I hope that this will send a message to politicians everywhere that a 100% negative campaign doesn't work because most people won't vote for a pig in a poke.

-- Joe Zeff The only problem with trouble-shooting is that sometimes trouble shoots back. http://www.zeff.us http://lasfs.info


Subj: The nature of the existential threat the Terror Masters pose to the United States

During the Cold War, the greatest danger was never that the Soviet Union would launch an annihilating missile strike against the United States out of the blue. The greatest danger was that the leaders of the Soviet Union would reach a position in which they thought they could get away with taking one more slice -- West Germany, perhaps, or Iran? -- by conventional means, because the US would be deterred ... only we would *not* be deterred, and both sides would charge up the escalation ladder, each hoping to reach a level at which it would have "escalation dominance" and the other side would back down.

Similarly, the existential threat to the United States is not that the Terror Masters will become able to launch an overwhelming attack that will physically destroy the United States, or that will cause our society to collapse. No, the existential threat is that eventually, after losing enough cities, the people of the United States would decide that we needed a *permanent* solution to the terrorist problem -- and we would embark an a campaign of revenge and preventive genocide that would make John Derbyshire's "rubble makes no trouble" idea look like a Christmas party. Remember Admiral Halsey's return to Pearl Harbor after the Japanese attack? "When I'm finished, the Japanese language will be spoken only in Hell." And while there would certainly, after that campaign ended, remain a nation-state called "The United States of America", it wouldn't be a society very many of us would recognize as American, or care to live in.

Rod Montgomery==monty@sprintmail.com

Before we decide to do imperial things we need to decide what we are and what we may become. And see below


Subject: Education and Math...

"In the United States, there are no teachers with real subject qualifications at all, just various specializations and majors. It is said that many actually brag about not having any knowledge of mathematics or science, as somehow distinguishing them as literary or cultured. It distinguishes them as stupid."


Charles Brumbelow

And your point was? Isn't the solution always more money for the school system (it won't really go for teacher salaries  but they will have some swell workshops supervised by D. Ed. professors), and smaller class sizes? That way every child will get a world class college prep education! Throw in more money!


Subject: Math vs. vampires: vampires lose


Mathematicians spoil everything:


No vampires, no zombies, no ghosts.

Boo. Hiss.




Subject: Documents

This is worth looking at. http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/008423.php 

"Over the past year or so, I have provided CQ readers with a number of translations <http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/cat_saddams_documents.php>  from key Iraqi Intelligence Service documents that have been translated by either the FMSO or by Joseph Shahda of the Free Republic website. I even engaged two interpreters to verify one particularly explosive memo <http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/006710.php>  last April, after Shahda published his own translation. That memo dealt with IIS plans to get volunteers for suicide missions to 'strike American interests".

One particular criticism that appeared with each new translation was that the documents were never proven genuine, although no one could explain the logic behind the US government hiding these documents in Iraqi Arabic among an avalanche of mundanity, only to shove it onto a shelf for years until Congress authorized their release to the Internet. Now we find another verification of their authenticity


 this time from the New York Times, which reports today that the documents constitute a national-security threat:"

A Serving Officer


AND this may be about enough on this for a while:

Subject: weasels and lions

The analogy is a crappy one. Yes, intent _is_ more important, because we're dealing with human beings, who can always surprise you. Your analysis of someone else's capabilities is almost certainly wrong if you disregard his intentions. The exact same analysis applied in August 2001, except that too few took their intentions seriously. Who thinks of razor blades as being a tool to murder three thousand people?

Fundamentally, though, Cochran's blind spot - and yours, I'm beginning to think - is with this business of viewing Iraq as a country that we went to war with. That is completely wrong. Iraq's military capabilities and ability or lack thereof to invade or threaten the US is completely irrelevant. As is the equivalent analysis for any other Mideastern country or the whole area put together. Because THAT IS NOT THE KIND OF WAR BEING FOUGHT. It is not Iraq: it is ISLAM, or a major part of it, and the war they are fighting is one of bodies and blood, not technology and bombs.

It _could_ be that kind of war if we actually used our military to its fullest capabilities. It isn't, though, and it seems likely that we will not be brought to the point where we take the leash off before we actually _are_ in existential danger, or so damaged that we can't tell the difference anymore.

Again, all this talk of the Mideast's military capability was just as true in August 2001. Somehow, that didn't keep Islam from doing a heck of a lot of damage shortly thereafter. What was all that about, anyway? What did it mean? Does Cochran have an answer for that? His preference seems to be that we should have done Afghanistan and then gone home. What would that have accomplished, long-term? How would it have prevented more of the same 20 years later?

_My_ answer is that Islam, or a major current within it, is irredeemably hostile to the West and will continue to harm us REGARDLESS of costs to itself until it (Islam or that current within it) is completely and utterly destroyed. I have zero interest in sitting back and letting the enemy take potshots at us indefinitely. I don't care if any one potshot is incapable of being fatal, the sum total is a far higher cost than any sane person should be willing to pay. When you have declared enemies who are this dedicated, you destroy them. The point of fighting in Iraq is to bring all this stuff to a head in a time and circumstance of our choosing, and to give the sane elements within Islam a chance to influence the outcome. It hasn't really been done very well, but it's a hell of a lot better than anything else in the past 30 years.

Yours seems to be, if I've understood correctly, that it meant we should cut off a lot of overseas commitments and pull back to our own shores. I am not convinced that is anything but a utopian dream; the jihadists would still see that they don't rule the world and we do, and that is their reason for wanting to kill us. So they would keep coming. Certainly for Europe, and I cannot accept simply writing off half of the West without a fight; that would be folly on the grandest scale.

Cochran's seems to be, pretend none of it exists. At least I can't see any other prescription coming out of what he's said.

And finally, again, Cochran's views of these things completely ignores what is going on in Europe, where ordinary people definitely are in everyday danger, and the societies are starting to crack. See what's been going on in Belgium, for instance, or the Swedish inner cities, or the latest incident in the Paris metro. Which country's military is paying for all that? Where does Cochran fit the thousand of burned cars into his analysis?

He doesn't, because he's a fool, and he's ignoring facts that are right in front of his nose.

Kent Peterson urquan@rocketmail.com

"... there was always a minority afraid of something, and a great majority afraid of the dark, afraid of the future, afraid of the past ..." - Ray Bradbury, _The Martian Chronicles_

This may be enough because I have become weary of people who assume that everyone who does not agree with them about a very complex subject on which most people do not agree is a fool. I weary of that kind of language, and I suspect the thinking ability of people who are so damned certain of their conclusions that they cannot think their disagreements may be caused by anything other than a lack of sense on the part of the opponent.

People disagree for many reasons. Usually they disagree because they have different premises, or different goals, or, quite often, both.

In the above: I assure you Dr. Cochran does not completely ignores what is going on in Europe, where ordinary people definitely are in everyday danger, and the societies are starting to crack. Perhaps it is quite the opposite. And I do not see how breaking things and killing people in Iraq will much change what goes on in Europe where the barbarians were invited to enter the cities and set up enclaves. I would have thought that the solution to the burned cars in Paris is some backbone on the part of the French, not more cluster bombs in Fallujah.

I would also venture to say that no Iraqi or Iranian or jihadist could take a drink from the Mississippi or plant a bomb in Indianapolis without our allowing them to be here; and while it may be easier to defeat the jihadists and plant democracy in Mesopotamia than to defend our borders, strengthen the Navy and Coast Guard, build a fence along the border and strengthen the border patrol, and organize our domestic intelligence services in a rational manner, it is not entirely obvious to everyone that this is so.

One assumption is that left to themselves the jihadists will become more competent, and be able to manage a modern society that threatens the United States.

(I am not trying to solve the problems of Europe; the Europeans have imported the barbarians and they have as compensation the liberal philosophy that says this was all a good thing to do; I don't know how that is going to work out for them, but it's not under my control and not much under my influence.)

If you assume that the jihadists can in fact build modern societies, keep their jihadist views, resist the cultural weapons of the West, and eventually invade the United States, then you take one view of the world, and you look for remedies to that. One remedy is to send soldiers into Mesopotamia. But if you really and truly believe that Islamic society presents an existential threat to the people of the United States, then would not a cheaper remedy be to nuke them until they glow, then bounce the rubble?

When you have declared enemies who are this dedicated, you destroy them. The point of fighting in Iraq is to bring all this stuff to a head in a time and circumstance of our choosing, and to give the sane elements within Islam a chance to influence the outcome. It hasn't really been done very well, but it's a hell of a lot better than anything else in the past 30 years.

Really? Yet some think we could have closed the borders, built nuclear power plants and moved toward energy independence thus depriving the Islamic regimes of most of their income, strengthened our Navy and Coast Guard, and built an intelligence service that doesn't rely on theatrics like the TSA, and have done that for far fewer lives and far less treasure than we have trickled into the sands of Mesopotamia. If the goal is to bring this war against the jihadists to a head, and to convert this from what we are doing in Mesopotamia into WARRE against a mortal enemy, I can think of far better ways to do that than to drive the price of oil higher and higher and thus enrich our enemies.

I have said repeatedly: we have the capability for empire. My Norman ancestors understood that well enough. The Anglo Saxon Norman people are a great deal more warlike than most suppose, and generally enjoy it. Robert of Normandy, Bohemund, Tancred the Great understood, and Muslim mothers still frighten their children with threats of Tancred, and Melanch Rick. It is a good thing that war is so terrible lest we grow fond of it. Many do grow fond of it. Those who have fought understand this well. If we decide to become a competent empire we can do so. The question is what do we want to become. We know how to be a republic. We have been one. We have not done so well at being imperial, but we can learn. There may be a cost. Monty has noted one of them.

As to the jihadists being able to defeat us if we come home, build up the Army -- the Army that defeated the Taliban and Saddam with such ridiculous ease that it encouraged many to believe we could rule as well as destroy -- build up the Navy -- a Navy that can deny access to these shores whenever we like -- close our borders and be careful who we invite in -- do you believe that? Do you believe that these weasels can become lions?

I do not advocate that the United States come home and ignore the world. I do not advocate that we sink the Navy and ground the Air Force. I do not believe that we should remove the satellites from space. I wrote a space policy that included a military mission to insure American access to space and be able to deny access to space to our enemies. I do not advocate that we leave them in peace to build forces able to destroy us. But do you really think the weasels can become lions while we are watching?

The argument for a forward front, fighting overseas, can be made, but I haven't heard it made definitively. I certainly do not believe that anyone who doesn't accept this perpetual war for perpetual peace is a fool.






This week:


read book now


Saturday, November 11, 2006


Subject: The partition solution


The Iraqi's don't seem to be waiting on us; it appears they are partitioning the country themselves.


"Throughout the capital and in towns and villages within a 50-mile radius of Baghdad, whole populations have shifted as Shiite and Sunni flee violence from death squads and suicide bombers to the safety of places where their Islamic sect is the majority."

CP, Connecticut


Subject: Commentary on Ethanol As Fuel...

You might enjoy this, Dr. Pournelle...


Charles Brumbelow

It never harms to know some of the actual energy facts...


Outsourcing voting.


- Roland Dobbins


'Non-physical contact'.


-- Roland Dobbins

Must make the TSA humble and just a little proud.


Subject: Link to uncut translation of "uncovered meat" sermon

Jerry, from one of the pieces that Joanne linked, I found the following link to an uncut translation of the complete sermon from the Muslem cleric who made the "uncovered meat" comments.


Two things are worth noting. First, his supporters are claiming that he was quoted out of context. This transcript makes it clear that this is not the case.

Second, Muslims are explicitly forbidden from lying to other Muslims. Further, note that this guy delivered these comments in a sermon, in the mosque, during worship services. If there ever is a time when a Muslim is required to speak the truth as he believes it, surely that qualifies.



Subject: American Testosterone levels falling


Could it be something in the food supply?

I wonder if they were falling in the Roman population as the Empire peaked and declined?

John Harlow, 


Subject: feminist sharia equivalence

Dr. Pournelle,

Joanne Dow faces an uphill battle to convince her feminist sisters of the magnitude of the threat posed by the Mohammedans. Ellen Goodman is more concerned about what women are wearing for Halloween this year.

 Is there anything more depressing than the "Naughty Housewife"  ready to go trick-or-spanking? Sure. It's the number of young women  who will tell you fervently that as a post-feminist generation,  they are liberated to make choices. And their choice for Halloween  is "Alice in Pornland"!   It's enough to make the average feminist want to bite into that  apple with the razor blade.  

But first, let us take that "choice" banner, attach it to our  broomstick and fly east as far as London, where there is another  sort of masquerade going on. The story of the hour is not about  young women uncovering their bodies. It's about young women  covering their faces.

Steve Chu




CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now


Sunday, November 12, 2006      

Gone to his reward.


--- Roland Dobbins


Subject: 1.8 percent reduction in insolation would stop global warming,


This is a story about sending mylar sheets up into the L-1 position between the Earth and the sun to stop global warming by reducing insolation by 1.8%:


If so little a reduction of solar output would stop global warming, perhaps a similar small increase is behind the warming in the first place. Somehow I doubt that we have measurements of solar output going back a century that are on the order of 1%, much less longer. Yet the global warming we may now be experiencing could be stopped with a reduction on the order of ten to the minus two power.

And the religious zealots want us to cripple world economy?


Go paint your roof white.


Subj: DARPA 2007 Urban Challenge


=Rules will include obeying all traffic regulations while negotiating with other traffic and obstacles and merging into traffic.=

Yikes! I'll be amazed if anyone does *that* on the first try!

Personally, I'd give it about five years.

It's not a "pure" prize contest: eleven teams are getting a million dollars each for development work. I'm skeptical about how good an idea that is. We'll see.

Rod Montgomery==monty@sprintmail.com


Are we seeing a shift in al Qaeda strategy? They seem to be pulling seasoned fighters out of Afghanistan and letting the resurgent Taliban handle things. It appears these fighters are seen as being more useful in their home countries than in Afghanistan. Look for more terrorist pressure on Europe in the near future, like over the holidays.

link http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/013998.php

How to treat a Christian - Pakistani Mohammedan style. Just file a trumped up "blasphemy" charge and let him rot and be tortured in prison through two trials, the first of which SHOULD have found him innocent except that the court was intimidated by what I might call "implied intent to riot if you don't do what I want." The second court finally got around to judging the case and decided "No evidence, He's free." Now what compensation is there for the eight years and torture? Anywhere the Mohammedans take charge this is what they do these days. We do NOT need this in the United States of America.

link http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/013999.php

As noted before the radical Mohammedans deem the Democrat victories as a good thing for Mohammedan terrorists. Khamenei seems to approve.

link http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=23299_A_Victory_for_Iran&only

Moderate CAIR in action: At least Congress Ginny Brown-Waite gets some of it. She notes to CAIR that their demand for an apology from the Hogans who hurt their wee little feelings calling Mohammedanism a "hateful, frightening religion." She suggests CAIR might care to look twice and see how many of the congresswoman's constituents see Mohammedanism and do something productive about it rather than whine.

Meanwhile, Ahmed Bedier, a CAIR shill, declares Catholic priests molesting boys is a worse terror threat than the airplanes that hit the Twin Towers and Pentagon.

Religion of peace? Naw, its a religion of peeve.

link http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=23298_

It seems Investor's Business Daily figures John Conyers is NOT a good "thing" to have on the House Judiciary Committee. He is owned by his Dearbornistan constituents.

link http://www.investors.com/editorial/editorialc

And Germany is allowing some venue shopping as some "former prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay" file suit against Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Tenet, and other officials over prison abuse.

link http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=23294_War_Crimes

For my last note Charles comments about our rather biased sources of news from the Middle East. (The MSM hire the terrorists to go out and report on the spot news. Is there any question it is going to come out horridly biased?)

link http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=23290_The_



Subject: Daily Diatribe

The Times of London is starting to investigate just what it is they and we are fighting.

"Generation turning to terror

"Hundereds of young British Muslims are being radicalised, groomed and set on a path to mass murder claims the head of the British secret service."

link http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,542-2445752,00.html 

"The extremists are motivated by a sense of grievance and injustice driven by their interpretation of the history between the West and the Muslim world. Polls say that up to 100,000 British citizens consider that the London attacks were justified. More people are moving from passive sympathy towards active terrorism, radicalised by friends, families, in organised training events, by images on television, and in chat rooms and websites on the internet. And al-Qaeda is quick to take advantage, admitting that half its war is waged through the media."

Their view is one carefully tailored to make it appear that the Mohammedans faced 1400 years of Crusade - when the first Crusade was in response to 400 years of Mohammedan jihad and happened mid 1000s.

Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, the head of MI5, remarks that they are also embittered by low educational and economic achievement, a sense of exclusion, and a growing generation gap. Of course, those who've been reading my comments or more importantly Robert Spencer's comments know most of this is brought on by the "educators" supplied by Saudi financiers who also financed the Mosques and Mosque schools at which these Wahabbi imams teach. They are being excluded by their teachers whose philosophy is that all the students need to know is the Qur'an. It contains all knowledge worthy of and necessary to a Mohammedan. It leaves the students unemployably uneducated, frustrated, and terrorists.

In a JihadWatch article Robert Spencer takes on a (supposed) moderate Mohammedan's ""An almost airtight legal argument" against the Islamic death penalty for apostasy." In the process he discovers the almost airtight legal argument also reaffirms the dhimmitude status for non-believers. There is such a huge body of Mohammedan Hadith, tradition of Mohammed's life, that has been nitpicked over 14 centuries that it is hard to argue against the direct reading of such articles. And when you do argue against them some other item comes up and bites you on a soft part of the anatomy. Robert's analysis is interesting reading. It points out the "problems" with the "moderate" interpretation which I read as somewhat tortured.

link http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/013987.php  (Charles at LGF likes this one, too. Robert has style.)

Robert points to an interesting MEMRI video regarding to Jihadists in Western China. This may be one reason China is so "silent" on the Mohammedan issue and a little soft with regards to Iran and nukes. Their underbelly is soft, exposed, and infested.

"At the end, the video presents a quote attributed to the Chinese governor of Eastern Turkestan: "If we wish to end the crisis in Eastern Turkestan, we must kill the religious among the Muslims. This is the only way to control Eastern Turkestan. The Islamic religion is inconsistent with Communism. If we leave Islam [in peace] we will not be able to rule Eastern Turkestan. We [thus] have to eliminate all traces of the Islamic religion.""

The Chinese "get it". I predict their action may wait for something they can call proper provocation, first. They have spare population as their leaders see it.

link http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/013985.php 

"In this week's Jihad Watch videoblog at HotAir, I (Robert Spencer) discuss the Saddam Hussein death sentence, and what still needs to be done in Iraq to protect women and religious minorities there."

link http://hotair.com/archives/2006/11/09/saddam-will-hang/ 

 "Beheaded Girls were Ramadan 'trophies'" Three jihadists are on trial now in Indonesia, accused of beheading three Christian high school girls. They, of course, followed sound or at least semi-sound (they WERE girls after all not REAL non-believers) Qur'anic logic. (47:4 and also 8:12) An article quote form "The Australian" by Stephen Fitzpatrick mentions that they basically considered the Christian heads to be Ramadan trophies. This is quite obviously NOT the act of a "religion of peace". It clearly marks Mohammedanism as a cult of violence, death, and war. It also suggests we ought to do something while the doing is easier....

I found this paragraph quite interesting, "However, after further discussion with friends, he decided that beheading Christians could qualify as an act of Muslim charity." I guess the girls did get peace. The ultimate peace of the grave. Nothing's ever more peaceful.

link http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/013978.php 

And even in Moderate Turkey Protestant Churches get firebombed. It is fortunate that not much damage was done. The police never responded to earlier calls about stones thrown at the church building almost every night for three weeks. They seem disinclined to investigate the fire bombing.

Pastor Mehmet Sahin Coban converted to Christianity 14 years ago and has built up a modest congregation. He's requested formal "church" status since the group formed. In February of 2004 Coban submitted a formal request to the city. 10 months later it was formally denied. You see, it's a NEW church. That is not allowed. Turkey has historically been quite secular so he is still alive in spite of the most common interpretations of the Qur'an and Hadith requiring his death. But they cannot stretch far enough to allow a new church. And they do nothing about Mohammedans trying to destroy it or drive it out. Coban and his congregation intend to stick it out. I wish him luck. With Turkey on the road to radicalization he will need it in spades. And Turkey is regarded as secular and moderate....

link http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/013995.php 

I bet Jerry Pournelle finds this most interesting. It seems rich Saudis are using libel tourism to file suit in Britain where the loser pays court costs and which have no real jurisdiction except by a serious stretch of the British law. The case in discussion involves Rachel Ehrenfeld, director of the American Center For Democracy and author of "Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It," a book exposing the role of a wealthy Saudi in funding Al Qaeda. She was sued in British court which ruled in favor of the Wealthy Saudi. Now she cannot find a publisher for her book. She was censored by Saudi money to protect them from having truth revealed.

US First Amendment rights are being trampled by remote control using this trick. Maybe it is time for the Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue. Do we have a First Amendment or not?

link (via a pointer from Michelle Malkin) http://www.proteinwisdom.com/index.php/weblog/entry/

What is a cease fire enforced against one side only? "Typically French" comes to mind. It's too dangerous for them to enforce the Lebanese cease fire terms on Hezbollah. But they're ready to fire anti-aircraft missiles at Israelis.

link http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?

Regarding our current election, the people of the United States have spoken. Bush has thrown an election, possibly. (Either that or he is as dumb as the moonbats insist he is.) And there is celebrating throughout the Middle East. Charles has a nice collection of notes and a video about the celebrations.

link http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?













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