THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 310 May 17 - 23, 2004
Highlights this week:
This is a day book. It's not all that well edited. I try to keep this up daily, but sometimes I can't. I'll keep trying. See also the monthly COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 4,000 - 7,000 words, depending. (Older columns here.) For more on what this page is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE. If you have never read the explanatory material on that page, please do so. If you got here through a link that didn't take you to the front page of this site, click here for a better explanation of what we're trying to do here.
If you are not paying for this place, click here...
For Previous Weeks of the View, SEE VIEW HOME PAGE
Search: type in string and press return.
If you have no idea what you are doing here, see the What is this place?, which tries to make order of chaos.
If you intend to send MAIL to me, see the INSTRUCTIONS.
If you subscribed:
If you didn't and haven't, why not?
For the BYTE story, click here.
The freefind search remains:
, May 17, 2004
The current Byte column has my views on WinHEC, the future of the 64-bit world, Intel vs. AMD, etc. Due to my contract with BYTE none of that will be here.
There are some interesting links in last weekend's View.
May 18, 2004
The papers today are full of stories of abuse to Iraqis, not the terrible stories of the intentional degrading of people by a few sadistic guards egged on by the chance to show off for the girls, but routine abuse: people handcuffed to each other and hooded and driven over rough terrain for long distances, hooded and kept out on the desert in the sun, detained for weeks without any charge against them. An elderly sheik hardly able to walk kept for months, sometimes in very bad conditions, then released.
Subject: In the Evening News
Harry Erwin, PhD
"If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible
warning." (Catherine Aird)
None of this is surprising. Soldiers break things and kill people, and they protect their comrades: if someone is a threat, that someone needs to be neutralized before he can kill one of my troops or my buddies.
It is all to be expected. War is Hell. Sure there is a wall of glory that units try to build, and there is honor; but when it comes to the aftermath of battle it is often ugly. The first time a 12 year old drops a grenade in a foxhole under the pretext of begging chewing gum, an 18 year old lieutenant can be forgiven, even if he can't forgive himself; the second time it happens, it is another story. But there won't be a second time. There will be dead children first.
And every whit of this could have been expected, could have been and was predicted.
Are "they" coming after us? And if so, how many of "them" can we arrest, hood, hogtie to others, throw in trucks, and drive around the desert; interrogate in the hopes that "they" will tell us something useful although we know that most of "them" won't know a damned thing we want to know. How many lives can we disrupt, take months out the breadwinner's life while his family fends for itself, because there is the off chance that this person, rounded up in a sweep, can tell us something useful?
And I suppose that if we intimidate enough people, we can teach them to love democracy, and forgo their religion in favor of another that compensates them for their mistreatment.
War IS mistreatment; war IS abuse; and "carrying the war to the enemy," "fighting them in Iraq rather than Manhattan" IS to detain innocents without cause, disrupt lives, generate hatred for the United States, leave bitter memories, and probably generate recruits for al Qaeda or for ANY organization that may be able to strike a blow against the Yankee imperialists. We knew that going in. Didn't we? Surely we could predict such things. I could and did. Surely our leaders who are paid to think about such things knew better than I did. Certainly our Colonels did.
Which is not to say that it is automatically wrong to take the war to the enemy. If it's true that this is the only way to stop "them" from coming after us, then keep on sewing hoods and shipping cable ties to Baghdad; but make damned sure this is the only way to accomplish that job.
Once an army gets used to brutalizing civilians, it is not quite the same army; and when it comes home it is not the army sent out. Surely we all know this?
The stories in this morning's LA Times are of a piece with many others, and as I say, are not astonishing. Given the choice between mistreating Iraqi civilians and endangering my own soldiers I know what choice I would make; were I a regimental commander in Iraq I know I would consider my obligation to be to my troops, not to the Iraqis.
But it doesn't mean I like it; and those who send in the soldiers must understand these things.
Policemen are supposed to put their lives on the line to protect civilians, to preserve orders. Soldiers have different obligations.
But if we are determined that good government justifies all, that consent of the governed is not the only source of just power, then we also consent to the means for doing that; and rough treatment of civilians is inevitable. If you say "Send in the soldiers, but have them be gentle to the enemy civilians, have them put their lives and their comrades lives to risk, punish the soldiers who don't behave the way we want them to," then be damned to you; for damned you will be. And do not be astonished if the soldiers begin to elect leaders who will protect them. Or at the means of election.
Subject: war to the knife
Continuing the tradition...jim dodd
OUTNUMBERED British soldiers killed 35 Iraqi attackers in the Army's first bayonet charge since the Falklands War 22 years ago. The fearless Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders stormed rebel positions after being ambushed and pinned down.
Despite being outnumbered five to one, they suffered only three minor wounds in the hand-to-hand fighting near the city of Amara.
The battle erupted after Land Rovers carrying 20 Argylls came under attack on a highway.
After radioing for back-up, they fixed bayonets and charged at 100 rebels using tactics learned in drills.
When the fighting ended bodies lay all over the highway -- and more were floating in a nearby river. Nine rebels were captured.
An Army spokesman said: "This was an intense engagement."
The last bayonet charge was by the Scots Guards and the Paras against Argentinian positions.
It is always war to the knife.
May 19, 2000
If you want a picture of the future in Iraq, look at Palestine. Or so I fear, sometimes.
Building nations has a high cost, particularly if the builder is impatient, and the beneficiary has conflicting loyalties.
May 20, 2004
Now we raid Chalabi's HQ? That will please his enemies; who are our friends?
Seems that some people have come around to your understanding about physical barriers:
The point of barriers is that you leave people inside the barriers alone. If you keep the settlements and the continued incursions, what is the point?
On page 3 of the Weekly Standard for May 17 there are a pair of quotes. One is from Larry Wilkerson, "State Department chief of staff" saying he doesn't like Utopians, and includes among that number Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz. His entire speech isn't quoted, but the context seems to be that the notion of converting Iraq into a democratic republic is Utopian; a not entirely unreasonable proposition.
The other quote is a violent anti-Semitic speech by Louis Farrakhan denouncing Perle and Wolfowitz.
Is this the new official line of the neo-conservatives?
The implication is clear, of course.
May 21, 2004
The fallout from the Chalabi raids continues. I am not at all sure of the consequences. Is he an Iranian agent? Clearly not if you mean is he loyal to the Iranian cause. An opportunist? Certainly.
And he was very good at selling the WMD bill of goods, of course to people who were eager to buy it. The CIA gave up on him years ago, but they have and use internal checks on intelligence quality. For reasons not clear to me, the Pentagon hung on to him a lot longer than anyone else.
And the drama continues.
On matters computerish, I call this to your attention:
May 22, 2004
Polls taken by the Pew Research Center for
People and the Press in
May 23, 2004
On matters computerish:
Subject: Sun Java Desktop 2 review.Roland Dobbins
Entire Site Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 by Jerry E. Pournelle. All rights reserved.