Saturday, October 29, 2005

(pause) Extinction ... and avoiding it...

Taking a brief break from "Catastrophe,." let me cover a few misc items.

1. Some good comments from folks. I enjoyed the site about the Fermi Paradox and Extinction-by-Singularity, at http://www.faughnan.com/setifail.html even though half the terminology the guy uses came from my 1983 "Great Silence" paper... which he never cites!

2. (politics) ....... I have long bemoaned the trend for many liberals to simplistically call themselves "anti war" instead of "anti-Stoooopidwar". Why deliberately accept Karl Rove's "wimpy" label when you can point to recent examples of America acting toug, bold and forceful in ways that are both good and smart?

The best alternative to today's insanity in Iraq was not to leave Saddam in power. (THAT choice had already been made, in 1991, by these same morons.) No, the best alternative was to pay our debt to the Iraqi people by removing Saddam calmly and professionally, the way we helped remove tyrants in the Balkans and Afghanistan. (See a detailed comparison of two diametrically opposite sets of diplomatic and military doctrines at http://www.davidbrin.com/neocons.html.)

Now there is a fascinating article on the GLOBALIST web site, that shows just how successful Bill Clinton's Balkans intervention really was. Yes, he took his time intervening, trying every possible avenue of diplomacy first -- as should be the way for a decent and mature and modern Pax Americana (which all decent people hope will eventually be the last empire.) Especially, Clinton gave the Europeans every opportunity to take leadership in solving a crisis in their own yard. The people of Bosnia and Kosovo and Serbia are deeply aware of how the EU screwed this up. Their gratitude to Clinton is manifest in posters and pictures and American flags (even in Serbia) as well as in public opinion polls.

(Imagine that. An intervention that leave people grateful and glad that we came? One that left our alliances bolstered, instead of in tatters? That cost almost nothing, in dollars or US lives? That left our readiness completely unimpaired?)

Clearcut goals, diplomacy-first, detailed and farsighted planning, then fierce but scalpel-precise application of overwhelming force while capably leveraging local coalitions, followed by professional and careful execution of a goal-centered aftermath, while minimizing both civilian and US force casualties.... (not a single US soldier was lost to enemy action in the Balkans Campaign)... this approach not only worked in creating a New Europe, at peace for the first time in 4,000 years...

... but it is the same set of doctrines that made the Afghanistan Intervention a tentative but astounding success (so far). To be clear, George W. Bush did nothing to plan (or meddle in) the Afghanistan endeavor. Clinton-era plans were already in place -- he had time only to say "go!"

Drop in on the GLOBALIST article at http://www.theglobalist.com/storyid.aspx?StoryId=4869  And spread word to your liberal friends that there is, at present, no lawful alternative to American Power in this world. That may change (work for it?) But meanwhile, the thing we should seek is not some wimpy isolationism that plays into Karl Rove's game plan. Rather, our goal should be to learn what is the right way to use that power during the rest of this transition era. Ways that are both good and smart. To make America's unavoidable role (and obligation) a blessing to the world, instead of a curse.

To ensure that our service men and women continue their evolution into overwhelmingly skilled problem-solvers and rescuers, instead of the capricious playthings of morons, who treat our brave soldiers as their personal toys.


27 comments:

fpoole said...

"And spread word to your liberal friends that there is, at present, no lawful alternative to American Power in this world. That may change (work for it?)"

The European Rapid Response Force could change this. So far as I know it doesn't actually exist, but its purpose would be European-level defense system and peacekeeping force oriented specifically at operations like those of the Bundeswehr in the Sudan. Perhaps a concerted European effort could help solve some of the recurrent problems in Cote d'Ivoire and Congo... after all, the EU already has an African infrastructure development plan in the works and the African Union will be working in partnership.

(This isn't ignoring the fact that Europe failed itself miserably in the 90s, but an acknowledgement of new developments, f.e. the first foreign deployments of the Bundeswehr in particular.)

I'd like to see what comes of all of this, and I have a lot of hope for the best in it, perhaps because under this administration's current style of leadership (and social trends leaning toward its continuation), America doesn't seem as able to solve problems logically and diplomatically as in the Clinton years.

Pacanukeha said...

The problem with Iraq was that the governement was still stable and in power and with a large army - in Yugoslavia the country was tearing itself apart and in Afghanistan the army was almost non-existant and the government not firmly entrenched (vis Northern Alliance &c).

So I don't think there was any short-term ( < 5years ) way of getting rid of Saddam.

David Brin said...

Ah, but that is EXACTLY what the Europeans said about the Balkans. Precisely, in fact. Moreover, cynics said "nobody since Alexander ever went into Afghanistann without crying in agony, within one season..."

Sorry, this is absurd. His country was already party dismantled. We had bases in Kurdistan. We could AT MINIMUM have empowered a gradual Kurdish roll to Mosul and Kirkuk, destroying every Iraqi Republican Guard who lifted a rifle to prevent it... while dropping leaflets and high tech radios to all would be defectors.

Gather enough defectors and you have a second local force. Every prisoner is a potential liberation fighter vs Saddam. Who could stand before a situation like that?

Do the same thing in Basra. Rescue the people we abandoned to hell in 91. Take a huge swathe of western desert, too. Three huge areas ready to welcome refugees from his madness, with new units of a Free Iraqi Army growing daily.

That alone would have been a straightforward extrapolation of the methodologies used by Clinton-Clarke... which the morons diametrically reversed by disbanding captured Iraqi units in their insane brute force assault.

(The third infantry division achieved a bona fide miracle, overcoming through sheer skill and courage the stupidest war plan any of them had ever seen.)

But in fact there was ANOTHER WAY.

The Iran option. Instead of insanely rattling sabers at the Iranian people, driving them back into the arms of their mullahs... Condi could have shoveled W onto a plane to Tehran to meet Katami...

... ever hear of Nixon-To-China?...

and offer them a deal. Revenge on Saddam, plus salvation of Shi-ites, plus a 5 year share of the southern oil... in exchange for doing the ground fighting while we drop smart bombs.

Then drop radios to all iraqi commanders telling them what is coming unless all at once (coordinated) they shoot their Baath party cadres and come over.

Yes, option two is riskier... (actually, there is no down side if it fails)... Still, it's vastly better than what we actually did.

Who are the winners today in the Middle East?

The Iranian Mullahs and a certain R-oil House. The only winners. And we spent half a trillion, plus 2,000 soldiers' lives, plus our alliances, plus our credibility plus our readiness, to achieve this.

Anonymous said...

I feel compelled to point out that a LOT of liberals (as opposed to leftists*) supported the war in Afghanistan.

The brilliant but chronically broke Patrick Farley is halfway through a complex, savvy, alternate-history comic that shows how the Gore administration might deal with the events of 9/12:

http://www.e-sheep.com/spiders/

It really burns me that this guy barely makes a living doing web design and taking on retail jobs, rather than having the time to work on his comics.

Stefan

* You'll ALWAYS get fringe groups like A.N.S.W.E.R. rallying to oppose anything vaguely military, using the same old asinine chants and opportunistically piling onto the soapbox with the same old predictable set of demands and causes.

HarCohen said...

No one left me much to argue about. Once W tied this invasion to undiscovered weapons of mass destruction, he set his fate.

I'm not certain about surgical strikes vs. occupation. Had W concentrated on creating a situation where Shiites and the Republican army were bottled up, while capturing oil fields and territory to lift the economic embargo, as was mentioned, Shiites and Kurds would have become wealthier to the detriment of Sunnis and Baathists. A blockade or cordon in the desert is a difficult thing and probably not as difficult as village, town, and urban warfare. Siege warfare in hostile territory is a well-known problem. Minimizing casualties among civilians would be a key consideration.

We now know what the results of going into Baghdad in '91 would have been. Except only being defeated once, I would believe the insurgents then would have been much more active and our losses even greater.

What's unsettling to me now is that Iran is calling for the destruction of Israel. Would they be saber-rattling now if the US was not in Iraq?

Rob Perkins said...

Iran would be saber-rattling no matter what. It's an ingredient of their sort of tyranny; they've been calling for Israel's push into the sea since the late 70's, at shortest.

I doubt anyone would have dared oppose the war in Afghanistan (well, one Rep from Berkeley) when it was launched in late '01. Voting no would have meant voting to retire from the Congress.

And, I think that if we had attempted to Nixon-China Iran, that they would have graciously accepted our air support, invaded Iraq... and proceeded to annex it. Fellow Shiites and all that.

Instead, we have a constitutional process under way, with an unknown degree of stability and a fading insurgency. What Bush is attempting is much larger and much less geopolitically popular than the limited diplo-war of the Clinton years... which the Republicans whined about with, as I recall, very similar rhetoric as the Dems whine about the Bushies.

I *didn't* support the Iraq invasion. It was and still is the most uncomfortable-making thing I've seen in a lifetime of paying attention to this kind of thing. But I don't think David's idea would have panned out any better. Can't tell if it would have been worse. But playing Persians vs. Arabs is more unsettling to me than Americans vs. Arabs, for some reason.

Anonymous said...

A couple of disconneted comments:

Bush-to-Iran would never have worked like Nixon-to-China because the first thing President Khatami would've said was "OK, stop supporting Israel". And no US government would do that.

The Iranians are probably also not to keen on doing just about anything to act as proxies for Americans given our history with them (overthrowing Mossadeq, etc.).

"Empowering the Kurds" was also likely to be a non-starter of a strategy due to the objections of Turkey - the upside of such a strategy is uncertain but the downside is certain. (I think most westerners would be really happy if all Islamic countries turned into clones of Turkey - friendly Muslim states with secular government systems.)

As to Iran rolling in and annexing parts of Iraq, I doubt that would happen. States just don't invade states to annex large pieces of territory any more - Saddam in '89 is the most recent clearcut example of someone doing this, the various pieces of Yugoslavia trying to grab as much as they could during the breakup is less clearcut. I think the reason is that a conqueror is pretty much forced to destroy a state these days to conquer it. Wars these days are about separatist movements, or general chaos when states fail.

If you can put up with some paleoconservative diatribes I really suggest people check out the William S. Lind On War Archive. The man has many insightful things to say about the "fourth generation war" we find ourselves in in Iraq. The US Army, he says, is not equipped doctrinally to do much other than destroy an existing state, leaving the kind of anarchic swamp free-floating jihadist groups love.

We can talk about Pax Americana until we're blue in the face but the fact is that the US supported some really nasty characters during the Cold War because we wanted to contain our chief rival, the USSR. We said it was all about "freedom" but deep down it was protecting our butts. So really it's a bit much to expect the world to buy "just trust us" when we say no, it really is about peace and freedom now. (That said, I'm glad it's the US Navy that dominates the seas rather than the People's Liberation Army Navy.)

Anonymous said...

Hey, Dr. Brin, would you care to do some speculation as to how the Israeli-Palestinian situation should be handled? If you were now the "special Middle East envoy", what would you do?

Much of the Arab world's opinion of America and what it does is dominated by their sympathy with the Palestinians as opposed to our support for Israel. Until something radically changes with that situation I don't think we'll see any large-scale eruption of friendliness in the Arab (and in general, Muslim) world.

Anonymous said...

Guys, gimme a break. You look for the stupidest possible outcome of the Iranian option and even THAT has low possible negative consequences.

Fact is, Nixon went to China and simply said "no" when they asked for things we found unacceptable. Offering the Iranians revenge on Saddam plus liberation of Iraqi Shiites would have been a great deal for them. They could take it or leave it. We had a myriad other ways to get Saddam. And I mean that. All it takes is people with some imagination and creativity.

Then there's this:

1. the actual Iranian invasion probably would not have been necessary. With proper coordination, this might have been the last strw to get Iraqi generals to rebel. (Um duh? We invade through Iraq's narrowest border, the farthest from Bagdhad. Sending in a corps to do an army's job. Only fantastic skill and dedication by the Third Division made the insipid plan work at all. The way you scare an enemy is confront him across the WIDEST border and the closest one.)

2. If an invasion did happen, all sorts of processes could have limited Iran to specific areas and roles.

3. It is a law of nature that liberators become occupiers. Why not let Persians get ire from Arabs, once their common shi-ism is taken for granted? Let them get the insurrection.

But Rob, above all, you fall for the silly notion that a complex society like Iran can be simply dismissed as a "tyranny". We assume this of all enemies but in fact Iran has a complex civil society. It is a stew, a balance of forces many of them tilting very strongly westward. Our role should have been to STRENGTHEN those forces and not -- as Condi has relentlessly done -- drive the Iranian polity back into the arms of its mullahs every chance. Khatami was quite open about his sense of betrayal and disappointment, that he was cut off at the knees by this administration, every time he tried to reach out.

Think. If we offer a constrained and careful but dynamic way for a million Iranian mothers to get revenge on Saddam, and the mullahs refuse, then at minimum we have hurt the mullahs. At no loss to us for having offered an olive branch. That's no cost. At all. In other words, why not try my idea BEFORE resoirting to brute force? No loss if it fails.

Think bigger, eh? Look at a map and ponder, what would be the worst nightmare of Saddam AND the Mullahs AND that R-oil House?

All three dread, more than anything, a restoration of the longstanding tradition of friendship between the Iranian and American peoples. It is THE shared nightmare of all our enemies over there. It is waiting to happen. Only massive electoral fraud keeps the reformers and students and urban populations from welcoming us back. 2 million Iranian expats will flood home if the teetering Iranian polity ever tilts westward even for a week...

...And that is the one thing that Condi has relentlessly striven to keep from happening. (At orders from her real bosses.) With the result that the Mullahs grip has strengthened under the Bush Administration and they are nearing acquisition of nukes.

Seiously, step back and judge results. After five years every act of this administration has resulted in pushiung Iran farther away and making it more dangerous. That is a pure fact.

Oh. What a load about Turkey and the Kurds. The very thing you describe is happening NOW! There is a Kurdistan forming. Turkey must find ways to live with it. I am sure they can. There are millions of Mexicans in the US and we do not feel threatened by a Mexican nation next door.

The Lind rant is positively insane. He knows nothing. We are evolving toward a military capable of becoming what Pax Americana must use in the 21st... a sophisticated international SWAT team. The process is underway, impeded at every turn by a pack of meddlesome morons. Balkans and Afgh proved what could be done.

I won't be lectured by people who five years ago were sneering at Clinton for "political meddling in military affairs" and for "international adventurism" and for "the failed concept of so-called Nation Building." Bah! Hypocrites who have subsequently bet our entire status as a Pax upon doing all three to unprecedented levels.

"So really it's a bit much to expect the world to buy "just trust us" when we say no, it really is about peace and freedom now."

I don't even understand this. We should pee in the faces of all of our allies, and then say it's about peace and freedom?

As for the Palestinian issue, it is hugely complex, but I will offer this. After we rescued the Kosovars and the Kuwaitis, we were entirely too "not-unpopular" among muslims to suit our real masters, who had to come up with a way not only to divide and Bankrupt America, and destroy our military readiness and all our alliances. They also needed to show us nightly killing Muslims. We've been very accomodating to our masters.
csmpt

Rob Perkins said...

David? That you in that anonymous post?

Anonymous said...

A very apropos article:

" Real Life: Ten very surprising things about Iran
By Angus McDowall

Most TV news reports about Iran depict religious revolutionaries who promote militancy abroad and suppress human rights at home. But this is only part of the story."

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article323336.ece

Regarding item #1, I've seen a few Iranian films and they rocked.

"The Color of Paradise," found at a Blockbuster, was a tough little drama about a blind boy and his widower father. Have some kleenex ready.

"The White Balloon." A sometimes whiny seven year old wants a fancy goldfish. She and her brother tromp around Teheran on New Year's Eve trying to make that happen.

"Crimson Gold." A real kick in the stomach. A sad-sack disabled Iran-Iraq war vet delivers pizza around Teheran, running into his old CO, morality police cracking down on partiers, and one of the new wealthy class.

Stefan

Anonymous said...

On Thursday I went to a world affairs council meeting. This author from Yugoslavia came to the exact opposite conclusion about Kosovo that the US had enabled Muslim extremists to take control of a country. Now he has published a book about it and his belief that we should have attacked Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, instead of Iraq. He was wildly biased but he did bring up some interesting points, like the new Kosovo mosque financed by the Bin Laden family, and al-qida cells operating with the KLA.

Brother Doug

Rob Perkins said...

I'm aware that Iran has a complex civil society. But the civil society is not the part of Iran's governance doing the saber-rattling. And, as long as the mullahs control the slates of electors, little about the civil society can penetrate their foreign policy.

And you really shouldn't suppose I haven't been thinking about this issue. I think under a Nixon-to-China scenario that the mullahs of Iran would pretend an alliance long enough to get them closer to their goal of Islamic Caliphate, promising whatever they thought we'd want to hear in order to effectively annex the Sudetenl^H^H^H^H^H^H^H south portions of Iraq.

(Yeah, Germany had a complex civil society, too. Both times.)

In any case, it's difficult to play "what-if". The rosy idea that an Iranian invasion mightn't have been necessary is a little hard to swallow, considering the history of war along that long border. Under threat of aggression by Iran, I think it far likelier that disgruntled Shi'a would lay aside their revolution and work to expel Persians.

There's not an empirical way to see whether your approach would have the outcome you say it would have, or whether it would be the way I think it would be, or whether the more likely third unforseen thing will happen, whatever it is.

So why don't I offer my own what-if? What if instead of invading Afghanistan at all, we simply cleaned up the mess they made in New York and Washington, and did nothing militarily or diplomatically to kill in return?

The use of the military, then, might be something like Stefan's reference to that wishful little comic. Take the defense budget and reappropriate it to drop food and simple medicine. Using stealth bombers and so forth.

Lots of food and medicine, so much basic wealth that no tyrant could confiscate it all. Maybe add as many of those $100 laptops I hear about as there are children between the ages of 8 and 15, pre-loaded with learning programs and an encyclopedia or two in the native language (along with the holy books of every major world religion)

And follow it up with the simple threat that if they constrain the automation of their nation so that no ideas of freedom can enter the hearts of the people, we will infect the nation with our own foreign automation. Sort of a Vernor Vinge-ish idea, and very geeky, but hey, memes are stronger than bullets.

Also, I don't really buy the idea that America is being wagged by Saudi Arabia. Nor the claim that the war plan is stupid at every step.

For instance, why was it in the best interests of the Saudis and the Arab League to leave Saddam in power in '92, but remove him from power 11 years later, with little or no change in the geopolitical situation aside from the gadfly 9/11 attacks?

Unrelated to that: The idea that nations won't rise up and conquer territory anymore is not tenable. 20 years passed between Versailles and the annexations of the Sudetenland and Austria, after a war that was supposed to end all wars. We've only had 16 since Kuwait was restored to sovereignty. China only took a few years after the end of WWII hostilities to move on Tibet. And to call it a liberation. The move on trade routes and the jockying regarding continental shelf rights around the increasingly warmer Arctic regions is shaping up peacefully, but the departure of the North Pole will bring five disperate nations much closer together as far as resources and trade go. There are other examples.

And... now I'm out of time! :-)

coturnix said...

Yugoslavia is a prime example of atrociously bad and botched foreign policy. Get informed before you mention that war again. Read Balkan Tragedy by Susan Woodward - an unbiased American expert, no Lefty (or Righty) at all.

The 1999. intervention made more problems, and more insolvable problems than ever existed in 1990. Kosovo and Bosnia are, now that Afghanistan is clen, the new HQ of Al Qaida, smack in the middle of Europe.

Madelaine Albright is personally responsible for about one million dead, I estimate. There was a good solution in 1990. and Yugoslav intellectuals and party leaders were eager to explain it to Jim Baker and later Clinton. Neither one bothered to listen - they had their own axes to grind.

There were possibilities later, in 1993-1995 to get things semi-right even if the first opportunity was missed, and Clinton/Albright/Christopher did EXACTLY opposite of what was the prudent approach. They are responsible, not the EU, for break-up of Yugoslavia, start of war(s), prolonging of wars and the impossible architecture of "peace" in the end.

Also, the Kaplan's idotic notion that Balkans/Yugoslavia is some kind of medieval dark place where only iron fist of a dictator can keep ancient hatreds at bay is pure Western haughty bulshit. It took Milosevic, Tudjman and Izetbegovic several years to invent, push and get to work the brand new hatreds based on ethnic lines that existed, but the hatreds did not exist for 50 years beforehand.

coturnix said...

Also, please join the serious blogophere by learning the very basics about the tools you need to use. Your blog is too good and important to be done in such an amateurish way. It detracts from your credibility with readers. Learn some basic blog HTML and
some more blog coding tricks, PLEASE.

John said...

Ouch! David dinged me for not citing his 1983 paper, 'The Great Silence'! Honest David, it wasn't a scholarly web page. I was only citing the things I'd remembered.

A quick google search shows that David's paper did indeed invite much comment even years later. David, is your paper available online?

David Brin said...

Coturnix, I talk to many Europeans, including some from the Balkans, and returning Balkan-service vets. Not one of them, including the Kosovar, would recognize this reality in the description you give. To a man and woman they are all deeply grateful to Clinton... including even the Frenchies! Those who commented upon the Islamic aspect are especially thankful that 1999 PREVENTED Kosovo and Albania from becoming the terror centers you describe.

I agree that Tito's dream should have worked. The Europeans should not have cynically assumed that Balkans people are insane beasts. (Their excuse for culpable inaction till 99.) There is much yet to do, there. But most of what remains to do can be eased by using lots of money to make the ethnically-cleansed refugees feel at home in new locales. Nothing can be done for the dead.

I do hope to improve my blogging. But the blogspot interface seems to trash me when I use its HTML automation. I do not know why. Because I am on a Mac? In any event, I am hoping to cut back to my original 3-4 posts a month! I need a novel to pay for new washer-dryer-fridge-dishwasher-karatelessons....

John, my 1983 paper is: Quarterly Journal of Royal Astronomical Society, fall1983, v.24, pp283-309 Also see: Am.J.Physics Jan89 -Resource Letter on Extraterrestrial Civilization. (Downloadable at http://www.davidbrin.com/sciencearticles.html or http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-bib_query?bibcode=1983QJRAS..24..283B (let me know if you have troubles.)

The unique feature is that it remains the ONLY scientific paper about SETI that attempts to review all ideas, instead of using zero evidence to support a single adamant theory. In 22 years, there has still not been any paper as comprehensive. I was supposed to write a book, but who has time?

The irony... the SETI crowd has become among the most cult-like and narrowminded group anywhere. Their ideology has radicalized and dogmatized to such an extent that they will drive out anyone who does not pledge faith to things like "all advanced alien races are automatically altruistic." Ooops, sorry. Using the word "alien" will also get you ejected. Along with any mention of the ten thousand sci fi gedankenexperiments about first contact.

They are now supporting "active seti"... or poking at the experiment by blaring YOOHOO! at the cosmos with radio telescopes, an utter betrayal of the pledge to passively sift the sky and listen "for as long as it takes." Needless to say, anybody outside of the cult finds this arrogant presumption appalling. But they are invulnerable to reason. If you ask for discussions before yelling into an unknown cosmic jungle, you are "paranoid".

The ability of human beings to romanticize, and turn modernist ideals into romanticism, is legendary. Marxists turned a future-oriented notion into a reactionary killing machine. The 1930s "modernist" architects became tyranical magicians, as soon as they could. What we are trying to do is very very hard and contrary to human urges. SETI is the latest sad exapmple of the fact that even scientists will avoid Citokate, unless they are either very wise... or prevented from doing so.

Our struggle is uphill.

Rob Perkins said...

I'm on a mac, and blogspot doesn't get me when I try to use basic markup tags or href links. There's a subset it'll support, and the rest it just rejects. I have yet to find the document which describes it.

Regarding Yugoslavia's breakup, something was afoot as late as 1990. Friends of mine, living in Zurich, had their building bombed. Nothing large or too earth shattering, and noone was hurt that I know of, but still disturbing: The ground floor tenants were from Yugoslavia, as were their assailants.

Are we sure Al Qaeda's memes aren't moving around in Albania and Kosovo? Or the Muslim enclaves of Bosnia?

michael vassar said...

It was in SA's interest to minimize Iraqi oil output, and still is in their interest to do so. We have done that rather well in both not conquering and later in conquering. OTOH, we maximized American Islamic hostility, which is hard to evaluate. It draws some hatred from their corrupt machine towards the great Satan, but much hatred of their regime is due to their alliance with said Satan.
From the US perspective, cultivating the hatred of the Islamic world may be the best way for us to maintain the perpetual war which is needed (or simply irrationally wanted) by certain powerful domestic interests *without* returning to an appocalyptic staredown with China or Russia. Assuming said interests cannot be defeated, we may have the best situation we can hope for.

Nicq MacDonald said...

"should have attacked Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, instead of Iraq"

WHAT?!?!?!

Saudi Arabia is one thing, but Pakistan? We might as well declare war on China, since it's a sure-fire way to start WWIII and get at least a hundred million people killed. Pakistan has at least 20 nuclear missiles on a hair-trigger to smash several of the largest cities in India- and India has enough nukes pointed at Pakistan to level the country. Keep in mind that this could easily set off a chain of alliances, ala 1914... erm, no, Pakistan is one country you definitely don't want to monkey with. Not to mention that pacifying a population that large would require a general draft on a scale unseen since WWII, even with aid from India.

Starting a war with Pakistan would be madness under any circumstance...

coturnix said...

Well, I am from there, so I am exception to the sample (older immigrants of some sort?) you've encountered. I went on the barricades against Milosevic in 1991. With a slightest of support, he could have been deposed then and there would have been no break-up, no wars, no sanctions, and Yugoslavia would be an EU member already. As the USA did the opposite and started supporting the wrong sides, i.e., various seccessionist movements (neofascists in Croatia, Islamic fundamentalists in Bosnia, KLA terrorists in Kosovo), I gave up and emigrated to teh USA. I am no Serbian nationalist, and I am a Democrat!

coturnix said...

And yes, Al Qaida trained (and funded and indoctinated) both the Bosnian Moslem troops and the Kosovo Albanian terrorists. Bosnia and Kosovo are still their European headquarters.

I admire Clinton for what he did domestically, but his ignorance of the world made him follow the criminal advice of despicable types like Albright, Holbrook, Shelton, Clark, Christopher, Ruben etc.

David Brin said...

coturnix you seem to be mixing the period when the US was letting itself be led by "local experts" (the French and Germans, for example) and the later period when Clinton got fed up and said "we're taking over". Both stages were understandable. A responsible person would try the one before going over to the other.

as for my style of posting I have tried repeatedly to get the blogger "link" button to work for me. On Netscape (mac) pressing it erases my entire post. I cannot restore it. The button is effectively a suicide button for my draft.

On Explorer (mac) the "link" button does not even appear at all.

I do not have time for this. I'll keep offering raw URLs for people to paste.

Rob Perkins said...

What comparison is valid between ClintonCo's trust of local experts, and then its taking over of those failures in the mid 90's, with BushCo's (41 and 43) superficially similar trust of the Arab League to contain Saddam, and its abandonment after 9/11?

If the answer is "no comparison", why not? And, if you please, do try to offer something more substantive than "Clinton was smart and Bush isn't."

(I still remember a freaked-out CNN reporter panicking over the sight of Mujaheddin in Bosnia, during that time.)

David Brin said...

Um.... I am boggled!

Clinton trusts ADVANCED DEMOCRACIES to take a hand in advancing their own self-interest in a Europe that they have been actively and mostly-successfully nurturing into being for a generation? How is that unreasonable?

Bushes trust the Arab League to reduce tyranny in their region, stop molly coddling murderous arabist petro-murderers and solve a problem they had been nurturing for years.... and this is comparable how?

I agree that both mistakes very clearly reflect upon the characters involved. Clinton trusted the French & Germans, then discovered "Balkan cynicism" had blinded them... and CORRECTED his mistake within 2 years.

Bushes trusted those who had never, ever proved trustworthy except to support jihadist enmity toward the western enlightenement. They behaved true to form... and the Bushes left Saddam stomping on the necks of Iraqis when they had him in the palm of their hands.

Pu-uh-uh-lease....

Oh... both teams corrected their mistakes. #1 in a manner that cost us no standing in the world, no allies, no SOLDIERS (!) very little time or money, and no reduction in readiness.

THIS "correction" has NO TRAITS that are not consistent with e deliberate attempt to divide, bankrupt, ruin and torment american society, fritter its alliances, demolish its readiness and serve as a nightly TV show to radicalize Islam.

Thanks for raising a comparison of opposites.

coturnix said...

There are two opposing principles in international law: sanctity of borders and right to self-determination.

In the Balkans, Bush Sr. and Clinton sometimes chose one, sometimes the other, but ALWAYS against the interests of Serbs.

If Mahatma Gandhi was the Serbian President at the time he would have had to fight all these wars, too. Milosevic' faults lie in his domestic policy, i.e., catastrophic economic policy, cronyism, etc., as well as tin ear for diplomacy. On the foreign policy front, if he made any mistakes it is that he ever backed down. And I hate his guts!

John said...

I revised my Fermi Pardox page to include a link to David's 1983 work, including a link to a scan of his 1983 27 page scholarly essay.