View 845 Tuesday, October 07, 2014
If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.
Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983
“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”
President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009
Frederick and Kimberly Kagan have a very relevant essay in this morning’s LA Times.
The Times title was “The wrong way to fight a war”. It has other titles elsewhere.
U.S. strategy against Islamic State is too much air, not enough boots
By Frederick W. Kagan and Kimberly Kagan
Air operations in Iraq and Syria have not stopped the advance of Islamic State. Despite the bombing, the Al Qaeda splinter group has launched a series of offensives in Iraq, gaining new ground in Anbar Province, and it has continued its offensive in Syria.
The desultory bombing mission — far too limited to merit being called an air campaign — has no chance of enabling local allies to eliminate Islamic State sanctuaries. It may not even be enough to keep Islamic State, also known as ISIS, from expanding. After 50 days of obvious failure, it’s time to consider an approach that might work: Get American special forces on the ground with the Sunni Arabs themselves. The only other alternative is to resign ourselves to living with an Al Qaeda state and army.
Islamic State seized the Iraqi city of Mosul on June 10 with a multipronged assault supported by military vehicles. The offensive continued over days, destroying two Iraqi army divisions and driving on Baghdad.
The Iranian military responded at once — reports indicate that Quds Force Commander Qassem Suleimani was in Baghdad with advisors on June 12. Iranian advisors and proxies began flowing into Iraq immediately. The U.S. took no action until Aug. 8, nearly two months later, dropping a small number of bombs aimed at opening a corridor to allow besieged Yazidis to escape from certain death on Mt. Sinjar.
The U.S. has hit about 334 mostly tactical targets in both Syria and Iraq in the intervening 50-odd days. To put that number in perspective, the 76-day air campaign that toppled the Taliban in 2001 dropped 17,500 munitions on Afghanistan. Those bombs directly aided the advance of thousands of Afghan fighters supported by U.S. special operators capable both of advising them and of identifying and designating targets to hit. There are no U.S. special operators on the ground in Iraq or Syria, no pre-planned or prepared advance of Iraqi security forces, and no allies on the ground in Syria. This is not an air campaign.
Islamic State is an adaptable, smart enemy, and its fighters are dispersed through population centers, with an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 of them controlling an area the size of Maryland. Hitting a series of fixed targets such as bases and destroying small concentrations of vehicles will not defeat it. Rather, enabling the air campaign to do meaningful damage to the Islamic State army requires putting some U.S. troops into the Sunni Arab areas that Islamic State now holds. Special forces serving as forward air controllers can direct airstrikes to meaningful targets that are not observable by satellite and overflight.
[Emphasis added. JEP]
The entire article is worth your attention. It doesn’t specifically say that the next objective ought to be Kurdish occupation of Mosul, which is my choice of what we ought to do next. The Kagans advocate support of Sunni Iraqi, which is both reasonable and required.
The Caliphate is a danger to the Middle East, but it is also an implacable enemy of Iran. The Kurds are more interested in a greater Kurdistan, but they are nominally Sunni – the saying among Sunni is that Kurds are Moslem compared to infidels – and have a reasonable claim to Mosul, along with a record of tolerance of non-Kurdish and non-Muslim inhabitants. Saddam changed the ethnic composition of the city in his Arabization program. Turkey has a residual claim to Mosul dating from the World War One Armistice date, but I have heard no recent claims. Turkey will not much care for strengthening the Kurds, but Turkey is no longer a reliable ally of the West, now that the constitutional guardians has been nullified and the old Ataturk brotherhood control of the Turkish Army eliminated.
Elimination of the Caliphate is not really the business of the United States. Establishing a stable base for our Kurdish allies arguably is. We destroyed the Baathist rule in Iraq, and allowed it to be replaced with militant Shiites bent on obtaining revenge for generations of Sunni repression dating back hundreds of years. The result was the rise of the Caliphate movement. That will no go away simply because we wish it would.
As American energy resources are developed and our dependence on Middle East oil falls, we need to reassess our foreign policy objectives in Mesopotamia and Syria. At one time it would have been axiomatic among the American people that we would be in favor of tolerance, particularly of Christians and Jews. We have hard and fast treaties of alliance with Israel, and strong political support for that alliance in the United States, possibly to the point of placing Israeli interests above those of Christians in the region.
Establishing an independent and reasonably strong Kurdistan with strong ties to the United States on condition that it continue its past and traditional policies of tolerance would seem to be a reasonable interest, both emotionally and realistically.
Bombing the Caliphate without any final objective does not appear to have much of an upside: we make enemies without making friends either foreign or domestic. This does not seem to be a reasonable policy.
The Midas Plague
We live in puzzling times. There is much that needs to be done, and no money to pay for it. Everywhere we look, our old infrastructure is decaying, children and old people need baby-sitting – for practically anything you can think of that needs doing, there is not enough money. We used to have money to make things. Where did it all go?
We pay people to sit around and do nothing. That’s where the money goes.
So I have a modest proposal: put everyone to work. Abolish welfare, long-term unemployment payments, disability pensions, and all the little bits of monetary aid that so pervade our economy. You want our money? You work for it. Disabled? There are very few people who are fully disabled: most of us a partly “disabled.” “Disabled” people actually can do a lot; consider a short guy who is “disabled” from playing basketball, for example. Most “disabled” people can do something, if only a little. So, the reigning theory is that there are No Disabled: you do what you can do
Let people do stuff for four days a week. The fifth day, they can look for a paying job. Or goof off <shrug>.
One of the reasons it costs so much to do road repairs is that the machinery is expensive – trench diggers and so forth. But we can make shovels in the US. And you can get twenty people to dig a trench that maybe one guy with a backhoe could do. But it’s cheaper this way, and uses lots more people. The only people who would not be called upon to work are people who need to be watched. Well, Watching is a low-skill occupation that can absorb the time of otherwise unemployed people; and you can be “disabled” and still act as a Watcher. Child care? Lots of free labor to do that. Maybe we could use the childrens’ own mothers to provide childcare in child care centers, instead of being paid to sit home. Don’t want to work at a child care center? Marry someone with a job that pays well enough for you to stay home. Now there’s a thought. Cognitively disabled people can work in sheltered workshops. And to coach them? Well, sociology majors . . .
Maybe, instead of government-run press gangs, we would have companies bidding on jobs with corvees of free labor. In either case we would have a huge need for low-level managers – more free labor.
The difference between a neighborhood of poor working people and poor unemployed people is profound. There is no reason we should have neighborhoods of unemployed people.
Just a modest proposal. Before we bankrupt ourselves.
‘Ebola jihad’: How terrorists could sicken thousands
This is painfully obvious.
No "weaponization" is needed.
To paraphrase Mel Brooks (who undoubtedly knows better himself in this case), "We don’t need no stinkin’ quarantine…"
EBOLA: Obama Quietly Scrapped Quarantine Regulations 4 Years Ago http://nation.foxnews.com/2014/10/06/ebola-obama-quietly-scrapped-quarantine-regulations-4-years-ago … <http://t.co/gvehorJ1g5>
When Incompetence Morphs To Malice, What To Do?
To address my own question, when incompetence among our political leaders becomes indistinguishable from malice, what should we do?
It seems a common theme across much of the internet this Monday that public trust in the currently-ruling faction of our political elite is evaporating faster than free beer at a frat party. (The out-of-power faction, deservedly, isn’t exactly wallowing in public respect either.)
It looks to me that we’ve reached a perception cascade. The bad results are now going beyond mere encroachment on our freedoms and constriction of our incomes. Immediate dangers of horrible death, whether via Middle-Eastern throat-cutting or West African plague, are concentrating minds. The US public, now that we’re having our noses rubbed daily in elite incompetence, is finally catching on.
For a while now the reality has been that advancement among our elites is far more a matter of pedigree, ideology, and self-congratulatory mutual back-scratching than it is of competence. Particularly in the case of the current ruling faction, politically correct progressive ideology now demonstrably trumps everything, even reality in the form of virulent and deadly plagues. (Ebola aside, Enterovirus d68, apparently imported from Central America with this summer’s unscreened illegals, is now paralyzing and killing US children.)
What to do? For starters, go out a month from now and vote for whichever local members of the out-of-power faction are most likely to actually displace a ruling Dem. Hold your nose if necessary, but do it.
Yes, in many cases they’re not much better, but it’s the most important corrective vector our system provides: Throw the bums out.
It’s not a precise corrective vector, no. Yes, pursue perfection over the long term. But steer away from the rocks NOW, we’re almost upon them.
The nature of our government is two competing broad coalitions. Next month, transfer as much power as possible to the one currently less delusionally incompetent. Yes, "currently less delusionally incompetent" is hardly a stirring prospect. Certainly you should also work to push that coalition in a better direction.
These coalitions are designed to evolve under pressure over the long term – apply that pressure! But first, make sure we’ll have a long-term.
Another part of what to do: Work on local solutions to the obvious dangers. If you can’t count on the Feds doing anything timely and sensible when one of their stupidities hits the fan near you, start working to get your state and county and neighborhood and household ready to cope.
One last thing NOT to contemplate is armed insurrection. Only a moron seeks revolution. Anyone who’s read and understood even a bit of history understands revolution is a desperate last resort that almost always destroys much if not all of what it sets out to save. Passive "Irish-democracy" foot-dragging in the face of official stupidity, sure, but forget revolution. Throw the current bums out, then keep the pressure up on the new bums to steer a better course.
PS – it is Porkypine with a "y", after the Pogo character. A cynic and curmudgeon, and one of the two wisest characters in the strip (Pogo is the other.)
[Emphasis added. JEP]
Porkypine Goes A-courtin’
I am well aware of Porkypine, and I suspect a spell checker got the name wrong when I was in a hurry last week.
Napoleon Bonaparte once observed that one should never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence. I agree that this premise can strained unduly by modern political liberalism, which seeks to liberate very little, and almost always ascribes to malice any opposition to its policies. Fortunately the United States has more than once awakened in time; perhaps Bismarck was correct. And our technology helps bail us out of many sticky situations: we had Detroit in 1939, and were able to convert a civilian economy into a war economy in months, astounding the experts in Germany and Japan (as well as those in England and Russia for that matter). Our ocean boundaries have also served us well.
We will endure this test, and Mr. Obama will go to his grave convinced that he was correct and opposed by malicious enemies.
My greatest concern is the absolute destruction of what was once a magnificent system of education, now reduced to a bureaucracy hell bent on defending its least competent members without regard to the effects of the worst teachers on the schools and their pupils. It has been true since 1983 that if an enemy had imposed our national system of education on the United States we would rightly consider it an act of war. Things are far worse now than in 1983 because Congress and the Courts have allowed more Federal control over education. Union campaign donations dominate school and city council elections, and teachers who don’t agree are still required to pay dues collected by the government to be turned over to the unions. This will never cease short of abolishing the school system entirely. That is unlikely to happen.
I dearly hope that technology can help bail us out of this: really bright kids will find a way to get access to the Internet, and learn something. They won’t learn as much as they would if there were competent supervision to encourage them to learn a framework into which they can insert what they are learning, but those were fairly rare throughout the history of the US school system. (Rare, but they were allowed to exist; now the education bureaucracy seeks to eliminate the best schools lest they make the rest of the system look bad. THAT, I put it to you, really is malice.) The vast majority of our citizens will just have to put up with the mediocrity that we now consider normal.
L.A. schools police will return grenade launchers but keep rifles, armored vehicle
WORKERS OF THE WORLD, GOODBYE
Hm wet foot dry foot and the White House
We have had a policy to allow Cubans who make it to the US with "dry feet" to stay here. Others are shoved back to Cuba.
We also seem to be adopting an attitude that if you make it to the US you can stay here indefinitely in a quasi-legalized illegal alien status for the fence jumpers.
Why not apply that to the White House. We recently had a veteran of our most recent quasi-wars (we pulled too many punches for them to be real wars) jump the White House fence, make it to the front door, open the front door, and enter. He was promptly tackled at that point.
He made it into the White House. Should be not be allowed to stay there until we start deporting other aliens, again?
Petition Urges Obama To Let Border-Jumper Stay In The White House http://dailycaller.com/2014/09/20/petition-urges-obama-to-let-border-jumper-stay-in-white-house/
reform White House access and grant Comprehensive Executive Amnesty & residency to migrant Omar J. Gonzalez & his family https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/reform-white-house-access-and-grant-comprehensive-executive-amnesty-residency-migrant-omar-j/q8xjkLqj
Bezos to Set The Washington Post on Fire
Jeff Bezos is planning to bring together two separate but equally important projects under his control: the Amazon Kindle Fire and The Washington Post. The Amazon CEO bought the paper slightly more than a year ago as a personal investment.
Now the twain shall meet in Project Rainbow, a pilot project that has been under way at the Post for the past few months, according to reports.
The project is a new application that will offer a curated selection of news and photographs from The Washington Post in a tablet-friendly format. Of course, many publications offer such an app with the goal of reaching a deeper subscriber base.
Providers such as Flipboard have made their mark with apps that aggregate news content from multiple sources and display it in a magazine-like layout for the tablet.
What makes the Post app different is that it reportedly will come preinstalled on Kindle Fire tablets that are expected to launch later this year sporting an 8.9-inch screen.
A Marriage of Sorts?
If these expectations are fulfilled, it will be the first hint that Bezos’ acquisition of The Washington Post was more than just a private endeavor.
Bezos already has ushered in a number of positive, albeit occasionally controversial, changes at the paper. He has hired more reporters — but he also trimmed reporters’ benefits and pensions. He has encouraged the paper to continue its tradition of deep-dive reporting — but he also dismissed the longstanding publisher Katharine Weymouth.
Bezos plans to make The Washington Post a national paper with coverage that’s not limited to the local community or political developments at the White House and Capitol Hill, he has said.
– See more at: http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/81160.html#sthash.yomS0sOU.dpuf
This will be interesting. Possibly VERY interesting.
Eric was over all day and we worked on upgrading the networking at Chaos Manor. Interesting, and full report in the October column which I am writing now. John C. Dvorak was over for tea and dinner. I’m now working on the October column. I took a couple of pictures with the iPhone and this is the first time, oddly enough, that I have connected it to this Windows computer; that’s interesting too. Usually the iPhone connects to the iMac. All’s well, but it takes a while.
And we had a minor panic when the Network stopped connecting to the Internet, but that can all wait for the column. And I am for bed.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.