View 829, Thursday, June 19, 2014
“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”
President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009
John Quincy Adams on American Policy:
Whenever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She the champion and vindicator only of her own.
She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom.
Fourth of July, 1821
I had to get the bills paid this week and yesterday I had to go to the bank and do some shopping and errands. None of that would have been worth reporting a few years ago, but such activities tend to use up the day. Getting older beats the daylights out of the alternatives, but it’s not for sissies…
The news from the Middle East isn’t very informative. The ISIS drive on Baghdad seems to have been halted, but the civil war in Iraq continues. Iran hopes to come out of this with domination of the Shiite areas of Iraq and a solid path to Syria. Apparently the Kurds have cut a neutrality deal with the Sunni. They don’t have congruent interests, and it’s really unlikely that the Kurds will be interested in a true alliance. There are also stories of a Kurdish/Turkish modus vivendum, which is interesting. The President, having a bit of time between his golf games and fund raisers, yesterday indicated that the US will not be sending in air power to defend Baghdad. We did send in some forces to help evacuate Americans, but the schedule for US final evacuation from Iraq hasn’t changed. Last night he decided to reconsider.
This morning the President is still contemplating assistance to Baghdad. Likely he offered some air power, and Maliki said “Is that all you will do for us?” This infuriated Obama. The results of that will be apparent. He’s about to come out now.
And the Sunni ISIS warriors are threatening, not Baghdad which is a cosmopolitan city, but Najif and Karbala, which are nearly all Shiite as well as important holy cities for Shiites.
And meanwhile we are now fighting American trained Arabs who, thanks to McCain’s gullibility, were given American training and equipment and sent back to be absorbed by ISIS, which McCain had probably never heard of by that time. He thought we were training moderates, but then he can always be sold a bill of goods by those pretending that stance. Mostly these trickled back into the regions and were incorporated into the ISIS ranks whether they liked the idea or not. A bit of equipment and some training doesn’t set you up to resist the biggest dog on the block. Alas, those who tried to warn of this were not listened to.
The President will announce just what he will do in Iraq presently. He’s back from his fund raisers and golf and ready to go to work as the President of the United States.
The Press conference is going on now. Apparently we are sending intelligence assets. If we decide we need to take military action we will—
Bryan Suits says this is the girl calling her ex boy friend to come kill a big spider in her kitchen. Apparently the President isn’t all that interested. He also notes there are no military people in the President’s announcement party. There will be no air strikes. No more blood and treasure to Iraq. Someone in the national security organization understands that if our enemies are killing each other, it is probably better not to intervene.
Listening: the President says that the US will not choose sides in this civil war. His closing remarks are well considered. We’re not going to shed more blood into the desert. When asked about the Kurds he had nothing to say.
Understand that overall Sunni outnumber Shia about 8 to one (including Kurds as Sunni “Compared to infidels, Kurds are Moslem”).
Reflections: an established corridor controlled by Iran from Iran to Syria is not in any western interest, and not in the interests of Jordan or any other Sunni. ISIS is not our friend, but it is not much of a friend to Iran either.
Iraq crisis: sectarian tensions mount in Baghdad as Shia militias prowl Sunni areas
Neighbourhoods riven by past sectarian bloodshed on edge as Shia militias mount shows of force
12:14PM BST 18 Jun 2014
Waving rocket-propelled grenades and Kalashnikovs, the convoy of Shia militiamen rolled down the Baghdad street, a 30-vehicle column of vans, pick-ups and battered saloon cars.
Above the roar of their combined engines, they chanted how they were now crushing the “terrorists” of Isis, the Sunni extremists who have seized much of northern Iraq.
This particular victory parade, however, was nowhere near the frontline – nor was it welcomed by those for whom it was put on. The main battleground against Isis’s advance is currently some 50 miles north of the capital, where Shia militiamen have stepped into the breach left by the Iraqi army.
But while some militiamen are busy in frontline combat, others have taken to driving through Sunni neighbourhoods of Baghdad in mass shows of force.
Their message is unspoken, but as loud and clear as the chants – any Sunni who is thinking of supporting Isis can expect Shia gunmen at his door.
“Ever since last week, not a day has gone past without them coming down the street, shouting and yelling and waving rifles and pistols,” said Imad Ahmed, a shopkeeper in the Sunni district of Adel in west Baghdad.
“They say they will crush the Isis terrorists and anyone who stands in the way of the Shia, but these guys are nowhere near the frontline. This is just designed to intimidate us.”
The United States will send a Kabuki force to defend Americans in Baghdad. Maliki hopes that this will serve as a tripwire to keep Baghdad safe for his Shiite regime. He is not likely to retake the territory lost to the Sunni. Do understand that the Sunni, not Shiites, brought off 9/11, although we chose to attack Sunni dominated Iraq for Bush family reasons. Now that we are out It would not be very much in US interest to join the 10% Shiite minority in a religious war.
The overthrow of Saddam made the partition of Iraq inevitable. We came out of it with the Kurds as something like allies. The Shiites we liberated did not love us for doing so, as witness the Mahdi Army (which will now get its chance to show how invincible it is when it defends Baghdad against ISIS). It might be well to have a way of convincing ISIS to consolidate their holdings rather than taking Baghdad. But the political map of Mesopotamia is changing permanently; we can influence that, but not stop the process. We stopped having that power when we sent Bremer to disband Saddam’s army. Now I note that Bremer has the gall to lecture the nation on what to do next. It’s a mad world.
And all this shows and shows clearly how important it is to keep the A-10 Warthogs; we are not done in the desert, and those are among our best and most easily deployed weapons for that kind of war. We also need helicopter carriers with Marines. Had we had one of those off the shores of Tripoli (well, Benghazi), Mrs. Clinton would be in a lot less political trouble. So it goes.
Subj: Iraq: Are you sure "The Sunni Arabs" are monolithic?
The way I heard it, ISIS are the heirs of the late, un-lamented Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. His bunch were famous for lording it over and assassinating Sunni Arab tribal elders, to the point where the Sunni Arab tribes, with a little stimulation from Petraeus, held an Awakening, allied with the Americans, and threw them out.
ISIS are *more* extreme than al-Qaida: Zawahiri issued a fatwa that al-Qaida are not to kill "innocent" Muslims, and even the Somali terrorists in Kenya have been trying to abide by that, but ISIS gleefully kill anyone.
Does it matter? Maybe not. Al-Maliki has evidently gone out of his way to antagonize the Sunni Arab tribes, since the Americans left. But I see no reason to expect that the only Sunni Arab fragment of a disintegrated Iraq is going to be ISIS.
Who knows? There may even be a politician — probably not al-Maliki — who could put Iraq back together, sorta-kinda, making concessions to the Sunni Arab tribes.
I had not intended to imply that all Sunni are alike in beliefs or fervor, apologies for being misleading. And just as Catholic France could ally with the Turks against the Holy Roman Empire, one’s brand of Islam isn’t definitive in determining which cause one jihads for.
I do not believe anyone can put Iraq back together again. Saddam did so for a while, and we had an opportunity to continue that policy without its brutality (and without Saddam’s sons acting like the sons of Septimius Severus). It was possible to continue Western rule of Iraq through the tried and proven practices of client rulers. Saddam’s generals had control of the army; the army knew it could not defeat the United States, but it could control the populace; the elements of client rulers were in place. Were, until Bremer disbanded the armies that could control the population.
From the Times of India
I have had this for some time and have seen no follow up. Obviously if you can manage to convert light into matter, which can then be expelled as reaction mass, you are onto a technology of some use in interplanetary travel. You can send light to a moving spacecraft…
Now, convert light into matter
LONDON: Scientists have for the first time discovered a revolutionary technique to turn light into matter, a feat thought impossible when the idea was first theorized 80 years ago. Three physicists at the Imperial College London’s Blackett Physics Laboratory worked out a relatively simple way to physically prove a theory first devised by scientists Breit and Wheeler in 1934.
Breit and Wheeler suggested that it should be possible to turn light into matter by smashing together only two particles of light (photons), to create an electron and a positron – the simplest method of turning light into matter ever predicted. The calculation was found to be theoretically sound but Breit and Wheeler said that they never expected anybody to physically demonstrate their prediction. It has never been observed in the laboratory and past experiments to test it have required the addition of massive high-energy particles.
The new research, published in Nature Photonics, shows how Breit and Wheeler’s theory could be proven in practice. This ‘photon-photon collider’, which would convert light directly into matter using technology that is already available, would be a new type of high-energy experiment.
Now, convert light into matter
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
It was my understanding that evidence of anti matter has been found during lightning strikes. I am not sure what all the excitement is about. I still recall the picture of an electron and positron spinning off in opposing spirals in an old physics textbook.
David P. Zimmerman
I tend to agree, but I have been hoping to find someone with more expertise to persuade me that this has implications for a spacefaring nation.
Global Warming, oops, climate change…
June Snow: Winter Storm in Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Flooding in Glacier National Park As Summer Approaches
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.