Iraq Marshland project; Kerry speaks out on Iraq; speculation on the Malaysian 777

View 815 Friday, March 14, 2014

I have this news from my daughter:

Water From Oil: Can We Help Restore Iraq’s Marshes?

Dear Friends, Family, Acquaintances, and Contacts,

I’ve launched a new project to help restore ecosystem services in Iraq. I am writing to ask your help in getting the word out.

For the next 30 days, my university will provide a 100% match for any contribution to our startup. Even better news is that we really only need a couple of airline tickets to get off the ground. We have pledges for land donation, ground expenses, and a great science team.

You can learn all about the project here:

I’d of course be delighted if you’d consider small contributions (all pocket change welcome), but even more importantly, please forward this along to anyone that you think might have interest: Iraq veterans, wetland and marsh lovers; fans of croudfunding; supporters of entrepreneurship.

We are already half way to our minimum goal; a little boost from you may well put us over the top.

Thanks very much in advance!

Jenny (Pournelle)

Dr. Jennifer Pournelle’s theory is that these marshes, then in what is now under water in the Persian Gulf (see Diving Into Noah’s Flood) are the cradle of Civilization, the origin of all the Mesopotamian civilizations. I am no expert on the matter, but it makes sense to me: why build irrigation systems in the desert unless you are familiar with living in areas where water is useful and can be manipulated. In any event the problems in the marshes began when the US invaded Iraq to restore Kuwait to the Kuwait Royals who spent the war in London Casinos until US troops could hand their throne back to them. When that was accomplished the US pretty well abandoned the people who had revolted against Saddam Hussein, and he retaliated; in the case of the marshes, he dealt them death, destruction, and bulldozers to drain these four thousand year old villages. You can see more of that in the National Geographic Diving Into Noah’s Flood. You’ll also see Jenny.

Was the Iraq War worth it? Veterans with ties to Wisconsin units weigh in

Don’t know him.

WAS it worth it? Yes.

HAS it been worth it? No.

Did you read the comments on the article? Lot of invective there. But let me explain my answers. Under international law, the US was justified in attacking Iraq. And, there was the great opportunity to introduce democratic (note I didn’t say democracy) methods in a Middle Eastern Arab/Muslim country. Not to mention the physical ‘central position’ of a US presence in the Middle East to influence Persia, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi, et. al. The WAR was brilliantly conducted and won quickly. The aftermath was a shambles. While the Iraqis I met ran the spectrum, most were initially wary of the US, but extremely thankful ridding them of Saddam. AND, they expressed hope and anticipation for democracy. We (the US leaders and government) blew that opportunity by being stupid and arrogant in a culture we didn’t want to understand or cooperate with, much less HELP them build a legacy for themselves. As a result, insurgency blossomed (which is what cost Col Smith his Marines) which caused more damage to the Iraqi people than to the US military ever did. Regardless, we still had a good chance to provide the Iraqis success after the surge – then we go and blow that by withdrawing. Should we have remained in Iraq – even one Rgt sized base of operations, we would have told the Iraqis and the world we cared and wanted them to succeed without interference from other Middle Eastern influences. Iraqis were/are proud of their country and heritage in the region – that could have been built upon with US encouragement. In effect, we abandoned them… again.

We could have had a success Iraq with democratic tendencies (worth it), but created too many mistakes and abandoned them (not worth it).



David Couvillon

Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Retired.; Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq; Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time; Distinguished Expert, TV remote control; Chef de Hot Dog Excellance; Avoider of Yard Work

We have left the Iraqi Kurds better off than when we went in. We encouraged revolts in the marshlands but did not support them until the invasion after 9/11.


There is a lot of news, much of it contradictory, about the Malaysian 777 headed for Peking. It is now highly probable that the airplane continued flying for several hours after it ceased to be tracked by any ground station, which means it could be nearly anywhere – China, Pakistan, even Iran, or in the other direction, in Australia.  If it has crashed in any of those counties one would think this would be known by now. If it has landed, a lot of people must know that. No one has reported eight event.  It’s an interesting puzzlement but that is all it can be without reliable information.






Stark, Raving Mad

One proposal for US retaliation to punish Russia for its Ukraine actions is to send more US fighters into Poland. One proposal, fortunately rejected at least for now, was to send in unclear weapons for the US fighters based there. One hopes that this was never taken seriously by anyone in command of those weapons. Younger readers will not recall, but when Khrushchev proposed much the same thing – nuclear weapons into Cuba – the result was that I was out in my back yard in Seattle filling bags with dirt to line the fallout shelter in the basement of my house in the Green Lake district. I cannot think that Putin would find the prospect of US nukes just across his border than Kennedy did when the Russians were sending them to Cuba.

Secretary Kerry continues to bluster about what Russia can and cannot do, as if that were up to us. That is not diplomacy as I understand it. Loud public threats are seldom effective between great powers, and are often not very useful when delivered from a great power to a client state. No one seems to see any similarity between Crimea and Texas.


There is slight but real hearing returned to my left ear.  Next week I will have the COSTCO technicians reprogram my hearing aids to see if we can take advantage of any of that.  The left one will have to be much louder than the right.  Meanwhile I am recovering from the steroids, and I ought to be back in action next week. My thanks for your patience.



2330: The news is full of “breaking news” about the possible path of the 777: west across Malaysia, a wiggle, then northwest.  After that it was still flying but there is no evidence as to where.

It could have reached Iran if flown carefully, and landed somewhere near the coast. It could have reached airfields in Burma or India, and of course it might have flown to China. The Navy is apparently searching large sea areas.

I can add only one thing: the aircraft exceeded 42,000 feet in altitude at one point.  If it reached that altitude and the cabin pressure was compromised, everyone aboard in that cabin is dead. If the control cabin was separately pressurized someone in there would survive, of course, but above 42,000 feet (and in practice above about 38,000 feet) pure oxygen flowing freely would not be enough to sustain life for any length of time. If the control cabin is pressurized but the passenger cabin was not, then everyone back there would be dead.  No one would answer cell phones.  So far as I know there is no evidence that the cabin pressure was compromised.


Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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