View 817 Friday, March 28, 2014



This might be worth putting up on your web site


Niven will be here shortly for a hike, but this was my first email of the day and I didn’t want to lose it. Have the police gone mad? There seem to be more and more stories like this every week in this land of the free.

And he’s here and I have to go.


We had a great hike, the full five miles and 750 foot climb, then lunch at the Oyster House which some say is the best seafood restaurant in Los Angeles. I wouldn’t go that far but it’s a good place.  Of course I came back exhausted. Since Sable got that bone cancer that finally killed her we hadn’t been able to go up the hill and I didn’t do it often without  her, so I get a bit out of shape.  We need to keep doing that, and we will.  I do find that my balance is worse all the time, so we have to stay on the fire roads, and not take trails any longer.  When the way is not level and not smooth, I have trouble with it.  Not much I can do about that. And alas, I am again deaf as a post in my left ear.  Right one works but not the left.



definition of a super power

Dr. Pournelle,

Falling back on Wikipedia, "A superpower is a state with a dominant position in international relations and is characterized by its unparalleled ability to exert influence or project power on a global scale." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superpower)

Is the U.S. a super power, or is China the only real one left?


I am not sure I understand that advantages of being a superpower. We still have two oceans, a Navy, and an Air force, and being a superpower encouraged us to intervene in territorial disputes in the Near East and the Balkans when we would have got a much greater return on investment from developing energy resources – including space solar power for that matter. The problem with being able to project power into foreign places is that it seldom gets projected in the national interest. We have served as the armed forces for half the world, and for a long time; the advantages of that since the end of the Cold War are not all that obvious. The Cold War held a potential existential threat to the United States, but it is not at all clear to me that the Kuwait intervention helped anyone we much care about, and it certainly removed a strong counter to Iran.  It eventually led to the second intervention in Iraq, which has created a Kurdish state that we can pretend is a liberal democracy; we can hardly make that pretense for the rest of Iraq, or for Afghanistan.  Defeat of the Taliban for harboring our enemies was very much in the national interest but our pretense as a superpower caused us to stay long after the Taliban had been removed.  We we not have been better off leaving Afghanistan to its own devises? It would have settled into a confederacy of warlords, none of whom would have dared harbor America’s enemies or allowed them to form plots there for fear that we would be back with fire and sword.

As I said when it was estimated that the cost of the Iraq invasion would be $300 billion dollars, with an investment of that magnitude we could become energy independent and tell the Arabs to drink their oil. The effect would have been to make Near East oil cheaper for Europe, which would end much of Europe’s dependence on Russian Gazprom.  The ability to project power is not purely military, and if one has no will to use the military then it is not terribly useful We could have had a great deal more economic power had we not chosen sides in the Balkans and become very much inv9olved in the territorial disputes of Europe.  But I have said all this before.


The original had the figure of $900 million which was wrong in both numbers and magnitude.  The original published estimate of the cost of the Second Gulf War – the one in which we took Baghdad – was $300 billion.  It went monotonically higher every month thereafter.

As to what I thought we ought to do about the Invasion of Iraq  see http://www.jerrypournelle.com/archives2/archives2view/view234.html

And in digging about in old stuff, here is Dr. Phil Chapman, former astronaut, on Global Warming and the Medieval Optimum Climate: http://www.jerrypournelle.com/archives2/archives2mail/mail235.html#global


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




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