Monday, December 18, 2006

Back to the (political) state of the world...

Here’s more on the “war against the U.S. Officer Corps.” on Salon.  See my own earlier article, The Under-reported Purge Against the U.S. Officer Corps. Alas, will your favorite obscure pundit ever be credited for prescience? For raising issues YEARS before anyone else does? Sigh.

A final note on the Iraq Study Group... that it seems so badly named. I grew up thinking that a “study group” helps students to prepare for a test. But the test was already flunked, more than three years ago. And now Colin Powell has finally found the guts to start saying so openly

So the new consensus is that nothing has worked and everything in Iraq has failed? Hm. Now that even neocons and Fox News are being dragged (fingernails scraping the sand while screaming “Nooooooo!”) into facing smidgens of reality, we remain with dozens of other quandaries.

1) What to do next. Hrm. I honestly do not like any of the options on the table. What sane person would? In Comments, last posting, I offered the Kurdistan Plus Scenario. It has dozens of problems, but also many advantages. I cannot guarantee that it would survive close examination by experts. But let us be thankful that at least now experts are partly in the loop.

2) Assigning blame. You can bet that Fox et al will be screeching about how this is no time for “partisanship and blame casting.” About how we need to pull together (after the right has spent years tearing us apart). And sneering “So what’s YOUR big plan for getting out of Iraq?” Indeed, I am NOT one of those calling for impeachment or waging total Culture War. (I want to win by ENDING “culture war.”)

Still, blame can and should be cast at least this far... by saying and repeating that “past incompetence should reflect on a group’s future credibility! “If you lied and denied and evaded and invaded and rejected reality and have a perfect record of horrid decisions, it is patriotic for others to SAY SO! If only to force you to admit it and to let some other voices be heard, for a change. Past blunders are totally relevant to your qualifications for continued trust.

3) Explaining the underlying causes. I sometimes feel we live in a Bud Light commercial (“less filling!” vs “tastes great!”), in which we are reduced to screaming at each other over which explanation for our present leadership makes the most sense.

"Brainless incompetents!" vs. "No! Betraying sellouts!"

All right, I am one of the only ones saying the latter. In fact, I think that when supposedly smart people spend a trillion dollars over four years on a relentless plan that squanders our international prestige, our goodwill and ability to lead the world, our soldiers’ lives, our national readiness, national unity and dozens of other treasures, it should at least be pondered -- on the table -- whether such a relentless and PERFECT pattern might have actually been the deliberate outcome, deliberately sought, by men who were and are far more frighteningly competent than we let ourselves imagine.

(Though you guys really ought to see the “2006 in Review” strip of “Tomorrow’s World” by Tom Tomorrow. In which it is pointed out that the CIA’s longtime nickname for VP Cheney was “Edgar.” As in Edgar Bergen. All right it was before your time. But Edgar Bergen was a ventriloquist, you see, who put words in the mouth of a dummy, you see....)

And more... Although one should always read TRUTHOUT documents with a grain of salt, they nevertheless point out many things you did not know and/oir might want to pose as topics and questions you’d sure like answered. Hence I recommend a (not unbiased) glimpse at Sec/Defense nominee Robert Gates. All told, if a quarter of it is true, I’d wish for somebody else. But what can we expect?

Stefan offered a map of the U.S. showing where servicemen and women killed in Iraq were from. Definitely NOT what you’d expect. Show it to all red-county Americans who are still tempted to sneer at urban “manhood.” This is a point that needs hammering. Urban America is not only the prime target of past and future terrorism. It is the ONLY likely target. New Yorkers and Bostonians displayed tremendous courage and patriotic resourcefulness on 9/11. And they are the ones who express fearlessness toward “terror,” disapproving the decision to squander a trillion dollars and our alliances and our readiness in a panicky over-reaction to this threat.

Rather, urbanites wanted to defeat the terrorists the best possible way, by going after them carefully and professionally, but also getting on with our normal agendas... with our normal lives.

And yet, despite that (and knowing that this war is vastly stupid), it appears that Urban America has also stepped up to fight when called upon, sacrificing at least as much as the regions that claim to be the sole bastions of patriotism.

I do not belabor this point in order to insult Red State America. It is a realm of deep values and hard-working folks who have some legitimate complaints about the snooty disdain that they received from a few nasty urbanites, over the years. But none of these things excuse the outrageous over-reaction that has burgeoned during the neocon era, saddling a great nation with today’s moronic leadership and relentlessly dissing the “decadent” cityfolk who are America’s truest “salt of the Earth.”
http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif
--
See a fascinating and delusional piece predicting a “Saudi-Israeli Alliance” arising out of the arrival of Iran as a nuclear power:

The staggering naivete of this article appears to be based upon several suppositions that have no basis, whatsoever.

Foremost is the assumption that sunni-shiite fractiousness has any meaning above the level of the streets. That the killings and enmity in Iraq have anything to do with the long range goals of the Iranian mullahs and the Saudi-Wahabbi sheiks across the gulf.

In fact, there appears to be very little such enmity. In fact, if we take both groups at their word... and especially look at the messages contained in the textbooks that they teach to their young people... there are many common yearnings. And a common foe. The decadent West.

It is foolish to ignore that both of these oil superpowers were chief beneficiaries of this current war. Both have seen skyrocketing revenues and a much-desired growth in pan-Islamic radicalism, for example.

The textbooks tell all. They portray a war of major worldviews, with the Sunni-Shia conflict relegated to a mere tiff among brothers. I see no reason to assume this is a lie.

Follow the money. The beneficiaries. The textbooks. The genuine and passionate idealism. The common goal of driving our corrupting foreign influence.

Views like the ones contained in this article are chimeras. Utterly delusional. Complex incantations used to distract us from what is really very, very simple. And terrifying.

72 comments:

Doug S. said...

Wow, that article really is delusional. Any alliance involving Saudi Arabia and Israel on the same side is likely to last about as long as those that Stalin made before and during World War II. His pact with Hilter didn't work out at all, and cooperation with the rest of the Allies was strictly on a "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" basis.

n8o said...

I don't remember where else I've said this, but to paraphrase, if you're just wrong, you're nobody special. But, if you're //consistently// wrong, then you're a national treasure! Because that means that we can profit in immense ways just by taking your advice and implementing the opposite of it. ;p

Bush and the neocons are exactly what we need to do the right thing. They're just in precisely the wrong place - in power.

It's pretty damn perverse to say this, but the fact that these clowns will have been in charge for eight years with such awful results was just what we needed not just to suspect the truth of this, but to have conclusive proof of it! Generations henceforth will have everything they need in the Bush presidency to refute any harebrained neocon idea for decades.

Of course, we had many previous historical examples of the same stuff the point to before Bush and and Iraq. Oh well. I'm sure we;ll get a few good decades out of it before we forget. again.

SpeakerToManagers said...

Hard to tell for sure by eye, but that map looks very much like a population density map; where there are more people there are more casualties. But at least for one region I know that's not the case; based on the figures for the last two years, deaths in combat (not casualties; I haven't checked them) for soldiers from the Pacific Northwest are almost twice the rate per million population as the rest of the country. SInce so many of them are reserve or National Guard, I've been wondering for some time if that was reprisal by the Bushies, done by deploying units preferentially, for voting against them.

Rob Perkins said...

I don't think so... the map looks like a population distribution map, and I'm well-aware that red-state sympathizers (if you'll pardon the expression this once) exist in the urban areas, just like people less disposed towards Bush's policies exist in the "red" areas.

(My county is "red" on all the maps compiled, and I know that my circle of friends and family include people on all sides of the Iraq issue.)

So, I don't think anything conclusive can be drawn from that map, unless all you're doing is defeating insipid stereotypes.

TwinBeam said...

What option to push for in Iraq?

Doesn't matter - what you're probably going to get, about the middle of 2007 or maybe 3rd quarter, is a "surprise" hot war with Iran triggered by the US bombing Iranian nuclear facilities. Iran will retaliate by blocking the Straits of Hormuz and invading Iraq to assist the Shi'ite militias in driving out the American Infidels and overthrowing their puppet government.

That will "resolve" the question of what to do in Iraq, and - assuming the US eventually wins - probably smooth the way for the US to keep getting oil for a while longer. And coincidentally, that'll remove the possibility of an Islamic empire rising up to threaten the wealth and power of the ruling families of the region.

Fantasy you say? OK - but the two things we know for sure about Iraq are that things can't be allowed to continue the way they're going, and that no one really knows how to untangle that mess. The 'Iraqian Knot' will be severed by the sword, one way or another. There will be war, and the US military is sitting in the middle of the battlefield.

Besides - the alternative might be worse for the US, in the long run.

Don Quijote said...

Indeed, I am NOT one of those calling for impeachment or waging total Culture War. (I want to win by ENDING “culture war.”)

The "culture war" is a component of our political system in the same fashion that the two political parties are, you cannot end it.

I do not belabor this point in order to insult Red State America. It is a realm of deep values and hard-working folks who have some legitimate complaints about the snooty disdain that they received from a few nasty urbanites, over the years

It's a deep realm of ignorant, selfish, hypocrites, brain washed morons who elected the worst president this country has ever had.

Oh, I forgot narrow minded and racist.

Doesn't matter - what you're probably going to get, about the middle of 2007 or maybe 3rd quarter, is a "surprise" hot war with Iran triggered by the US bombing Iranian nuclear facilities. Iran will retaliate by blocking the Straits of Hormuz and invading Iraq to assist the Shi'ite militias in driving out the American Infidels and overthrowing their puppet government.

George and his neocon buddies would be stupid enough to start that war.

That will "resolve" the question of what to do in Iraq, and - assuming the US eventually wins - probably smooth the way for the US to keep getting oil for a while longer.

It will resolve nothing in that we may be able to defeat the Iranian Military, but we we would only be able to control the land directly under our boots.

And coincidentally, that'll remove the possibility of an Islamic empire rising up to threaten the wealth and power of the ruling families of the region.

The ruling families of the region are so financially diversified that nothing short of global catastrophe can destroy their wealth.

Fantasy you say? OK - but the two things we know for sure about Iraq are that things can't be allowed to continue the way they're going, and that no one really knows how to untangle that mess.
You damn right it's a fantasy!
You and what Army are going to untangle that mess?

The 'Iraqian Knot' will be severed by the sword, one way or another. There will be war, and the US military is sitting in the middle of the battlefield.

Besides - the alternative might be worse for the US, in the long run.


Let me keep it short and simple for you, there is nothing we can do in the Middle East other than making it worse, to put it plainly we are truly f**ked ( not as badly as the Iraqis are, in that over half a million have died and another one and a half million have gone into exile) .

David Brin said...

Dang, you both are so k-k-k-k-waaaazy!

;-)

Seriously, there is nothing, no act by the US, that would more securely enchor the Iran-Saudi alliance, send a surge of uniting passion through the Muslim world, and effectively re-creeate the 8th Century militant Uma, than if we made a dirtect strike upon Iran.

Unlike when Jimmy Carter at least held a patch of desert in Iran for a while, we would not be able to hold a fingernail of that vast and populated and educated land, filled with military veterans and a tradition of total sacrifice. A couple of smoldering piles of rubble would energize them...

....the way twin piles of rubble in New York energized Americans.

The one thing is would accomplish would be to kill- dead - the youth/pro-democracy movement in Iran. Dead. And THAT is exactly why I believe this scenario is exactly what will happen.

Bush will do this with that goal in mind. It will only complete what has been the centerpiece of his Iran policy since 2001... to drive the modern and moderate Iranian youth into the arms of their mullahs.

This is not to say that I agree with DQ. His cynicism is muttered like a rosary. I doubt even he actually hears the words anymore.

ERic said...

At the risk of restarting the market 'discussion', here's an interesting post regarding market forces, China, the US, and the impact on the environment. I figured, considering our discussion over the past couple days, that folks would find the information interesting. Seems pretty clear to me that the blogger comes down on the side of the loony lefties.;)

Blake Stacey said...

Via Seed magazine's "I Can't Believe It's Science" for 18 December, here comes a shorter, freer version of Crowley's original article on Michael Crichton. (Warning: popups and adverts. Exercise your right to avoid them.) This article makes several points which might merit discussion in CITOKATE-geared circles. To wit:

Mr. Crichton's novels — the better known of which include 1992's Rising Sun, which portrayed Japanese business practices as a mortal threat to America, and 1994's Disclosure, about a hapless white-collar fellow falsely accused of sexual harassment — are more than stories; they are arguments. Mr. Crichton has never been known for nuanced character development. But, as with the novels of Ayn Rand or socialist realist fiction, the characters in his later books don't represent real people so much as ideas.

Amid the death and mayhem, a moral struggle is under way. The books themselves follow what has become a familiar formula: We meet the main characters. Someone dies or suffers a terrible trauma. Then it's time for "the point" — a long, fact-heavy monologue that serves as Mr. Crichton's take on the issue at hand.

[...]

When Mr. Crichton isn't lecturing this way, he rolls out noxious characters to represent all that's wrong with the segment of society he's targeting. In Disclosure, for instance, we get a columnist named Constance Walsh, who plays the role of radical-feminist minstrel. She publishes a column titled "mr. piggy at work," which affords Mr. Crichton the opportunity for a sarcastic rant. "[Rape] is exclusively a crime of males, who use [it] with appalling frequency to keep women in their place," she writes. "For their part, women simply do not oppress men. Women are powerless in the hands of men."

You can read these books in search of an ideology, but you won't find a distinct one. Clearly, Mr. Crichton is no liberal, but a free-market conservative wouldn't write an essentially protectionist book like Rising Sun, either. What Mr. Crichton's worldview really amounts to is a kind of hectoring contrarianism that is increasingly targeted at America's know-it-alls, against the liberal elites, against the very type of expertise that had given him his professional cachet. And that worldview has reached its bitter, frothing apex with State of Fear.

In other words, you can't position Crichton's books on a left/right or liberal/conservative axis, not in any useful way. The key dichotomy one must address is nostalgic versus progressive.

Crowley goes into some detail about how the Bush years have elevated Crichton to something beyond a typist of sci-fi potboilers. (Yes, this is a point where I use "sci-fi" instead of "SF" advisedly.) He concludes, "And, ironically, this leaves Mr. Crichton in the very role he and the science-fiction genre have always derided: the hubristic man of opinions, the insider, the expert."

The irony is present in force, I think, but I'm not so sure the science-fiction genre has "always derided" the informed insider. It is possible to praise expertise while deriding secrecy.

ERic said...

And now to comment on the thread. Regarding US bombing Iranian nuke plants... I pray not (and I'm areligious). Dr. Brin's nailed it. We did that, and the current DEMOCRATIC backlash that's growing in Iran would crumble.

I find it interesting that Iran just had an election that echoed the one we had here -- where the current nutball in office got a warning handed to him. Maybe the democracy *will* pull us all back from the edge. The people in Iran are maybe looking just across the border and thinking they don't want it to spread, and they need some reasonable people in charge to keep that from happening.

I guess I have a powerful desire to be hopeful.

(Thank you, DQ, for carrying the cynic banner for me. Frees me up to be the hopeful person I prefer to be!)

TwinBeam said...

Actually, I agree - an attack on Iran does have the potential to energize the muslim imperial/unification impetus. I suspect Bush et al know that. They just think that if we can defeat Iran in a straight-up fight, kicking them out of Iraq, it will destroy their credibility as a potential power in the region, and break the back of the Islamic empire before it can form - leaving the same mess of fractious Islamic factions that are unable to agree enough to form the empire dreamt of by bin Ladin and such.

Will that plan work? I don't know - but it sure doesn't look like anything else will prevent Iran from gaining a lot of power out of the collapse of Iraq.

Is the goal - preventing formation of unified Islam - a worthy one? I guess it depends on your time frame of concern. From a very long term perspective, it's going to happen eventually, and the West had better be ready to defend itself when it does - Islam's formula for expansion is military invasion, followed by economic and social pressure to convert.

Perhaps it's better to let the empire form while the West is relatively strong and has a chance to defeat it. On the other hand, that means the next big global war might come in our lifetimes, dragging our children and grandchildren into it.

Rob Perkins said...

It's a deep realm of ignorant, selfish, hypocrites, brain washed morons who elected the worst president this country has ever had.

Oh, I forgot narrow minded and racist.


...wow.

eric said...

... fascinating and delusional piece predicting a “Saudi-Israeli Alliance” ...

... because nobody's said it yet: "Furgem Jewrabs!"

Markbnj said...

Wow Dr. B. Again, an interesting article.

One point I think that needs to be stressed with your comment about "

the "fascinating and delusional piece predicting a “Saudi-Israeli Alliance”

Retreat to the 1967 borders will never work.
Both Israel and the arabs need to accept the UN 1948 two state solution (see )here
and here

for why I think we need ALL parties to accept the UN 1948 proposed borders for the two states..

PS: 2 problems WILL need to be ironed out.
a) ALL the land that Jordan ANNEXED in 1948 when the arabs REJECTED israel and the UN 2 state solution
b) the fate of Jerusalem as a international city.

Both of these issues will need to be worked out TOGETHER.
Until then (and Hamas will have no choice), there will be no deal possible...

Markb in NJ

ERic said...

How weird. There are two of me.

...ok. So "Eric" isn't that uncommon a name.

eric:
... because nobody's said it yet: "Furgem Jewrabs!"

Now that really does make it weird. I remember that cover. I read that book. But don't remember anything about it. Probably scrubbed it from my memory after reading it, if your quote is any indication.

Mark said...

Totally off topic, but for those who like prediction registries, check out this blog post from Oct. 9th:

I won’t pretend to know whether Google is ever going to see the $1.65 billion they just put down on YouTube ever again, but I will pretend to know what this is going to mean for news consumers toward the end of the year.

You see, it’s only been about 10 months since Time Magazine declined to choose an individual for its much-devalued Person of the Year award, so it only stands to reason they’re back in the hunt. It’s also been nearly a decade since Time named someone (or thing) from the tech industry — Jeff Bezos in 1999 — and more than 20 years since they named the PC its “Machine of the Year.” Also, it’s not an election year, so it won’t be the winner of the presidential election.

It’s time for another gimmick! And, in this year of the Lamonsters and Macaca and Lonelygirl15, I have a guess as to what it will be:


Follow link to see prediction.

Don Quijote said...

This is not to say that I agree with DQ. His cynicism is muttered like a rosary. I doubt even he actually hears the words anymore.


The world suffers from a real shortage of cynicism...

So let me do my part to increase the quality and quantity of it out there:

The Guardian - US accused of using aid to sway votes on UN security council


The US uses its aid budget to bribe those countries which have a vote in the United Nations security council, giving them 59 per cent more cash in years when they have a seat, according to research by economists.
...

Ten of the 15 seats on the security council are filled for two years at a time, by rotation. Kuziemko and Werker found that, in years when they have a seat, countries get an average of more than £8m extra in foreign aid from the US.

'I don't think it's surprising this goes on; but I wonder whether countries being aware that it goes on might have some salutary effect,' Kuziemko said.

Countries with a security council seat also receive an average of £500m extra from the UN itself, most of it channelled through its children's fund, Unicef, over which the US traditionally has been able to exert control. President George Bush recently provoked controversy by appointing a close political ally, former Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, as Unicef's chief.


and the Harvard Study

MarketWatch - US Army may force Goodyear workers to end strike


The U.S. Army is considering taking measures to force striking workers to return to work at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) plant in Kansas in order to prevent a shortage of tires for military vehicles, the Financial Times reported on its Web site Friday.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said the army is looking at a possible injunction under the Taft-Hartley Act to force the 200 Kansas workers to return to their jobs.


Got to love that miracle of 47...

SpeakerToManagers said...

It doesn't seem likely to me that the US will be the party that bombs the Iranian nuclear facilities. Israel is going to get a lot more antsy a lot sooner about them,. They will probably go off on them with not much more than a phone call to Bush 15 minutes before "bombs away". This does give Bush plausible deniability (though no one will believe he didn't order it).

None of which would prevent an immediate retaliatory attack on US facilities or forces, if Iran or some other power were so inclined. They might take a page from our book and blame any attack on "terrorists"; plausible deniability can work both ways. If the "terrorists" all came from Yemen or Kirgizstan, who would we retaliate against? It might take weeks to fake a good report on WMDs in Iran right after Israel bombs them out of existence.

SpeakerToManagers said...

To the commenter who stated that a military conquest of Iran would end the possibility of a militant Islamist empire:

Remember that Pakistan has nuclear weapons, that most of its population is polarized against the West, and that the current pro-American (sort-of) president holds office only as long as the pro-Islamist (or at least anti-Indian) powers in the government such as the security services allow him to. And that's just one country, albeit one of the more unstable ones.

Even if you believe that no one is willing to start a direct war with the US over Iran, do you really believe that occupation of Iran would be met by anything less than an insurgency at least as violent as the one in Iraq, with all the nations in the region contributing?

ERic said...

Following up SpeakerToTongues -- we must also remember that the vast majority of muslims aren't Arab. Or even Persian. If I remember right, they're Indonesian. So the middleeast, while a focus, wouldn't be the only focus of a possible militant Islamist empire.

Eric Gillespie said...

Regarding "red states", don quijote says:

It's a deep realm of ignorant, selfish, hypocrites, brain washed morons who elected the worst president this country has ever had.

Oh, I forgot narrow minded and racist.


Isn't racism judging an individual by characteristics (fair or otherwise) of a group? Hello, Don, anybody home?

Why the hell does anyone listen to this guy? I've been lurking on this blog for ages, and if Don isn't simply a troll having a big laugh at our collective expense, he's completely and utterly delusional.

ERic said...

It's the Eric Comment Invasion!

...sorry. I really just couldn't resist.

David Brin said...

If you needed to find a theme in Crichton’s work, it is terror.

NOT terror in the sense of Freddy Krueger giving you your money’s worth on Date Night at the flicks. No, “terror” is the desperate fear that MC expresses toward the unfamiliar or strange... toward the possibility of change.

Note that in all of his books, something unfamiliar arrives -- dinosaurs, feminists, Japanese, nantoechnology, environmentalists -- and proceeds to start rampaging about. If it is something technological, the gruesome events preach a standard ( and anti-science and anti-Enlightenment) story of hubris. “Man was never meant to go there!” is the finger-wagging lesson.

Now, most people who feel such terror toward the future or change AVOID thinking about it. But you gotta give MC credit. His response - perhaps in reaction to being an extremely TALL person -- is to go charging TOWARD the group or thing or knowledge that is evil and denouncing it roundly, showing it as an agent of all things ruinous...

... and then (here’s the cute part), arranging his plot so that - at the very end - everything is neatly put back exactly as it was! SOciety is unchanged (though frightened and a bit chastened and more willing to listen to handsome Cassandras). No new discovery makes the slightest difference. No social repercussions or alterations in our ways of dealing with the world.
Of course, science fiction is the literature OF change. It is all about the fact that humans have had to alter their views every single generation, for three centuries. Our children will think differently. This prospect terrifies some. “Conservatives” in the classic AND theocratic AND even in the brutally aggressive klepto-neocon sense. (Though not techno-conservatives like Barry Goldwater.) Ironically, vast numbers of lefties share this anomie against change.

Crichton is actually quite lucky in a matter of timing. He began his career shortly AFTER the nation had begun getting used to the idea of racial equality. Hence, though clearly a nativist and xenophobe, he has never explicitly denounced our shift away from racial prejudice. If he had done so, his career might not have survived.

In a sense, MC clearly manifests the anti-enlightenment, anti-science movement that has it’s spearhead right now in the US White House, explaining his frequent presence there as an ex officio “science advisor.”

-----
TWinbeam do not even try to come up with rationalizations for the monsters... even as strawmen to be knocked down. No degree of attack on Iran will “knock them out of Iraq.” It will only cement their presence there.

If we get out, though, suddenly Iran will be the occupying power in Iraq! Let THEM face the hardships and the spittle and hatred and blame!

At best, they will spend billions of our oil dollars lifting Iraq and rebuilding it, so they can have the same level of democracy that Iran does. Imperfect, but VASTLY better than anything else in the area!

At worst, (for them) the Shia Iraqis will start to realize “hey! We’re Arabs!” and start making up with the local Sunnis, in order to skewer Iranian occupiers. With any luck, BOTH would happen! And Neither bother me a whole lot. Neither would an Iranian presence near Kuwait, that made the gulf states shiver and try to be nice to us, for a change.

I agree that the west needs to get ready in case Islam does re-unite. Hey, I AM THE ONLY GUY I KNOW WHO PREDICTED ALL THIS! But we got other problems, too. The Putin Revolution in Russia may resume the cold war, only this time with a crypto-czarist imperium that is patterned on the Mafia and with none of the old communist equality-rhetoric that at least used to slightly moderate the old Soviet Union.

WE NEED TO BE GETTING READY FOR THOSE DAYS AHEAD! The “end of history?” What bunk!

----
Markbnj, I am sorry, but going to 1948 is absurd. Had the Arabs chosen to reject Hitler’s best friend, the venomous Grand Mufti, in 47, who called for a continuation of the Nazis’ “good work, “ then (as the Hashemite wished) the middle east could have thrived from a union of both semitic clans, both seed of Abraham.

But the Mufti’s vision prevailed. They sneered that the UN’s cludged partition borders were indefensible, and set out to prove it... and the sabras proved them wrong. Since then, several more attempts have been made to eradicate and rub out not only the state of Israel but every living Jew in its borders.... indeed, that is still policy in Arab language speeches and textbooks.

Sorry, but a deliberate attempt at genocide and rejecting the 48 border does not thereupon give you the right to then demand those same borders you rejected. War and defeat have consequences. Moreover, those borders never took into account the expulsion of almost a million jews from Arab lands, who fled to the only place that would take them. One weeps for the Palestinian refugees. But note that they are the world’s ONLY refugees who were refused the chance to resettle in other lands. Their Arab “brethren” kept them herded in camps for one reason. Guess what it is.

---
Don, you make me laugh. Cynics are a dime for ten dozen. They are trained on the playground, where it is easy to win just by sneering. Enthusiasts must show courage and actually make bets, take risks. Cynics snarl and call it fashionable and wear black leather AS IF THEY INVENTED IT! Har! Some are decent people and even right in their opinions, now and then. But really. Do they do enough good to merit the food and air and all that pollution?

Clearly you haven’t even a clue what the Miracle of 47 was. Pity.

---
Speaker, I pray the Israelis are smart enough not to fall for the scenario you describe.

As for occupying Iran, I doubt our present military could occupy one of the spit-islands in the strait of hormus. From the world’s most impressive military to a wheezing kitten in 5 years. We must congratulate Bush. (Though I wager the Navy is still strong.)

TwinBeam said...

SpeakerToManagers:

I don't think Bush would try to occupy all of Iran - just do enough damage and temporarily take enough territory to use as leverage in peace talks. Pretty much what he probably wishes he'd done in Iraq.

No, I don't think it would end the risk of Islamic empire - as you point out, Iran is only one of the candidates. But it is the strongest current candidate.

I could be wrong - maybe Bush will just figure Iran'll be his successor's problem. Unlikely, given the pressure he'd get from his oil pals, with them telling him that this is the only way to salvage his image for the history books. But maybe.

Sidereus said...

David,

Just a quick note about Russia: you are correct.

My wife, a native of Russia and currently visiting her family, is completely aware of the false democracy promoted in Russia.

Mafia? Absolutely. We may laugh here but the mafia has a huge influence in their politics.

Moscow is doing well. During my previous trip, I could not help but notice the large amount of construction/renovations.

Putin is portrayed as a "hero" in Russian media and not an ill-spoken word appears on TV (some small media does print "controversial" stories).

According to their TV program(s), they have a missile defense program "35 years ahead of the Americans". (Yeah, I can imagine a few Soyuz jokes here ;))

(more on this if requested)

Sidereus

Don Quijote said...

Don, you make me laugh. Cynics are a dime for ten dozen.

If cynics were a dime a dozen, we would not be in the jam we 're in today.

cyn·ic
–noun
1. a person who believes that only selfishness motivates human actions and who disbelieves in or minimizes selfless acts or disinterested points of view.


Clearly you haven’t even a clue what the Miracle of 47 was. Pity.

Wasn't that the year the liberals stabbed labor in the back (Taft-Hartley), reorganized the Military, and the Intelligence Community, created the Military Industrial Complex and kicked off the Cold War?

Fhydra said...

I don't know how many of you are following the local elections in Iran, but the results have been an embarassment for Ahmadinejad. Here

Don't forget that the moderates over there are a large factor, and they're fighting the extreme fringes in their government. Hmm, why does that sound so familiar?

Jon said...

Just a comment on prediction markets:

http://news.com.com/Tech+lessons+learned+from+the+wisdom+of+crowds/2100-1014_3-6143896.html

Sign me up for a few shares of Brinco.

David Brin said...

Jon, thanks for the heads-up on Predictions Markets being used in big computer-related companies. It is about time. The systems they describe actually include a primitive version of participation coercion... an essential trait if these exercises are to start having effects that bear eventually on credibility. (All of the older arenas have these ritualized forms of forced competition). In this case, one of the companies notes who scores as "risk averse" so stepping forward with wagers is encouraged.

And so am I.

DQ you do have one point. I prefer an honest cynic over a dishonest idealist. The latter gave us every religious inquisition (praying for the souls of people they burned alive) along with communists and hypocritical confederates. Still, that is a false dichotomy. Give me an honest idealist, who is calm and practical and eager to negotiate with others who want a better world!

Those are worth twenty of the other kinds.

Um, who "kicked off" the cold war? Ah... let's ask the people of Ukraine, Poland and Hungary and Estonia and Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Mongolia, North Korea. Go ahead. Except for the last one. where that style of government is STILL at cold war with us, killing its own people and threatening our lives.

If you ever spoke at length with a randomly chosen Warsaw Pact survivor, they would set you straight real fast.

Oh, but those awful 47 liberals! Must have been someone else who got died with Schwerner and Goodman and kicked off the Civil Rights movement. Must've been someone else who took the water cannons in Selma and filled the mall to listen to ML King. (Oh, yeh, it was my own dad, who stood 20 feet away when Bobby was shot.) Must've been...

Oh, get bent, will you? Those "pragmatic idealists" changed humanity more than all your cynics ever will.

Gawd preserve us from historical dingbats.

Don Quijote said...

Oh, but those awful 47 liberals! Must have been someone else who got died with Schwerner and Goodman and kicked off the Civil Rights movement. Must've been someone else who took the water cannons in Selma and filled the mall to listen to ML King. (Oh, yeh, it was my own dad, who stood 20 feet away when Bobby was shot.) Must've been...

Considering that Schwerner was 8 and Goodman was 4 in 1947, I am not quite sure what your "47 Liberals" had to do with their deaths in 1964 other than being to cowardly to carry Truman desegregation of the Army to it's logical conclusion.

Um, who "kicked off" the cold war?

You seem to forget that little intervention from 1918 to 1920 where we sent 15,000 troops to Russia to fight against the Bolsheviks...

Rob Perkins said...

Good grief, DQ. That's easy equivocation fallacy on your part, there. Go back and read David's last again, willya?

SpeakerToManagers said...

David,

Speaking of Schwerner and Goodman, and as a temporary antidote to cynicism, read
this Leonard Pitts column
. There is a good argument for the moral stance, no matter how many people insist on pragmatism at all costs.

Oh, and about that Israeli-bombing-of-Iran scenario: remember that they've already done the same thing to Iraq (1983 IIRC). It's easier to do something the second time; it's even easier to convince yourself it's a good idea if you survived it the first time.

David Brin said...

That's all right, Rob. Historical Dunce-tude can actually be amusing.

I think that the 15,000 allied sailors who died in fire and ice, bearing crucial supplies through the Nazi patrolled arctic to Murmansk, just in time to save the entire Russian/Soviet nation, MIGHT buy a little forgiveness for those early interventions...

... which were, after all, in support of a then-ally (the Kerensky government) that had more electoral legitimacy than Lenin ever had.

Ah, selective memory.

Again, just find a ROmanian, a Czech, a Pole. Dare to spout any of this crap. Any of it. To any of them.

Marcus said...

Thanks for another thought-provoking article, Dr. Brin.

Um, who "kicked off" the cold war? Ah... let's ask the people of Ukraine, Poland and Hungary and Estonia and Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Mongolia, North Korea. Go ahead. Except for the last one. where that style of government is STILL at cold war with us, killing its own people and threatening our lives.

Just have to mention a detail.
One country in that list never had a communist style of government.

Not coincidentally it's the one with the highest standard of living by quite a large margin.

DQ: You are no cynic if you really are willing to play the part of a Stalin's apologist?

My grandfather was a cynic, as he rejected the magnanimous offer to join the "Worker's Paradise" made by Soviet troops, despite being a relatively poor farmer.
-With a machine gun.


About the original post:
...whether such a relentless and PERFECT pattern might have actually been the deliberate outcome, deliberately sought, by men who were and are far more frighteningly competent than we let ourselves imagine.

-On related note, I wonder if the fact that US government has given so many completely different official reasons for the war has been a deliberate strategy.

Especially now that different pundits have provided dozens of additional theories of at least some credibility, the result is that no-one basically has any idea what the hell it really was all about in the first place, while the "information" is abundant.
(Apologies if this is an old theme here, I haven't read all the previous threads.)

It is highly ironical that the 19th century man probably had a pretty good idea that the war is (for example) all about getting land for settlers in the expense of red-skinned savages.
-Despite the crude propaganda of the time and the fact that his only sources of information were newspaper and hearsay, while we are essentially in the dark.

Don Quijote said...

... which were, after all, in support of a then-ally (the Kerensky government) that had more electoral legitimacy than Lenin ever had.

... which were, after all, in support of a then-ally (the Maliki government) that had more electoral legitimacy than Al-Sadr ever had.

Diplomat's suppressed document lays bare the lies behind Iraq war

The Government's case for going to war in Iraq has been torn apart by the publication of previously suppressed evidence that Tony Blair lied over Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.


DQ: You are no cynic if you really are willing to play the part of a Stalin's apologist?


Where did I apologize for Stalin?

Don Quijote said...

It is highly ironical that the 19th century man probably had a pretty good idea that the war is (for example) all about getting land for settlers in the expense of red-skinned savages.
-Despite the crude propaganda of the time and the fact that his only sources of information were newspaper and hearsay, while we are essentially in the dark.


The quality of the propaganda was not anywhere near as good as it is today.

If you ever bother to watch the news on any channel, you'll discover that after they are done with the weather, the sports, the celebrity scandals, the odd crimes, the human interest stories, the state of the DOW, there is no time left for minor matters like Labor Policy, Environmental Policy, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, International News or Political News (anything important that might actually affect your life and that of millions of others).

Don Quijote said...

Houston Chronicle - Pentagon mulling show of force to Iran

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is considering a buildup of Navy forces in the Persian Gulf as a show of force against Iran, a senior defense official said Tuesday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because the idea has not been approved, the official said one proposal is to send a second aircraft carrier to the region amid increasing tensions with Iran, blamed for encouraging sectarian violence in neighboring Iraq as well as allegedly pursuing a nuclear weapons program.


And when of one of the ships crosses into their territorial waters and they react, we'll have our "Gulf of Tonkin" incident.

H.Hurricane, USN ret said...

Don
Given the fact that the 'claimed waters', 'internationally recognized waters' and 'American recognized waters' of Iran in that area are a mish mash of lines on the charts, it'll be easy to have a incident...
IF Iran decides to have one.

SpeakerToManagers said...

Don Quijote: Who needs a reaction from the other side to have an incident? There's a lot of evidence that there never were any North Vietnamese boats on the radar at the Gulf of Tonkin. Hey, any half-qualified electronics rating in the Navy could have faked those bogies.

David: just find a ROmanian, a Czech, a Pole. Dare to spout any of this crap. Any of it. To any of them.
Or a Ukranian. My grandparents got out before the first "War to end war", so I don't have any stories from them except about the Cossacks, but in the '70s I worked with a guy who was born there during the second war, and whose parents got him out in the late 40s, to save him from the engineered famine that Stalin used to make sure the non-Russians in the Union didn't get any political ambitions (which was really strange because Stalin was a Georgian, but such is totalitarianism). Now he had some stories to tell!

tacitus said...

The Russian Civil war is, alas, all too good a model for what Iraq may well become. A mish mash of patriots, brutal zealots and foreign intervention troops more or less slaughtering each other at will. To some extent Russia has still not recovered from it. We (America, Britain, France) went over with reasonably good intentions, to safeguard all the military supplies we had sent the previous regime and to keep this nasty new political disease from spreading. And got out when it became obvious that we were just targets.

If you insist on another dreary historical parallel look at the post independence partition of British India into India and Pakistan along mostly ethnic/religious lines....much, much bloodshed and two generations later wary, nuclear armed neighbors squabbling over Kashmir,which so far as I can tell has no strategic importance to anybody.
The history I studied in college ages better than the science, but it is sobering, sobering...
Tacitus

ERic said...

"Houston Chronicle - Pentagon mulling show of force to Iran"

*sigh* That's it. Reward the population of Iran that just rebuked their leader (exercising democracy) with a threat. That'll certainly turn them away from a rabid president that's insanely screaming about the Evil Empire (US).

Idiots.

Makes it all the more obvious that no matter what this government says, it's NOT in support of democracy.

It's in support of... hell. Something else. I've seen so many theories at this point, no matter which one I pick, either Dr. Brin or DQ or someone else will vociferously accuse me of being simplistic on one side or the other.

What a fucking mess.

Good job, King Bush.

Marcus said...

DQ: Where did I apologize for Stalin?

1. You first imply that the cold war was started by liberals in the USA in 1947. (unilaterally?)

-When DB reminds you of the facts about east europe, you still fail to admit that Stalin's policies were at least partly responsible for the situation that lead to the Cold War.

2. Instead the Cold war was now a retaliation for the Allied intervention in the Russian civil war almost 30 years before?

While Stalin was never mentioned by name, if you really think that he instead of US liberals was not mostly responsible for the beginning of the Cold War you definitely have unusually high opinion of him.
-Or quite distorted view of history.

Still, I rather meant to ask if you were serious than to accuse you of anything, that's why it was posed as a question.
I apologize if you found it insulting.

Marcus said...

If you ever bother to watch the news on any channel...

Of course you are right about the quality of the news, but on the other hand it is easier than ever to find massive amounts of information also about the important things from the net or from the newspapers.

That brings me back to the "quality" of propaganda and to the point I kind of tried to make in the first post...
Older forms of propaganda were probably more subtle and insidious than the current one; the "big lie" of Goebbels, doublethink, the "mushroom treatment" in the communist states etc.

Instead the new big thing is just plain SPAM.
Why bother with elaborate cloak and dagger schemes when you can deal with the general public with simple information overload. I suppose that this is something you would have expected the people to do in order to make Orwellian Big Brother type government ineffective, not vice-versa.

Let's look: "The truth about Iraq war"? Google provides about 17800000 hits so I suppose it's better to start reading!
The truth probably is out there somewhere among all the advertisements and "black helicopters"-stuff.

What I don't understand is that why there is yet no easy way to filter all the crap and have only the essential.
If not from the MSM then from investigative independent reporters. Perhaps I'm naive but one would suppose that there exists a demand for serious old-fashioned investigative reporting, and someone doing just that would slowly but inevitably became known.

How came that we have to "use" the best scifi authors in order to hear something reasonable about current events when infinitely cruder tool would suffice.

Don Quijote said...

Still, I rather meant to ask if you were serious than to accuse you of anything, that's why it was posed as a question.
I apologize if you found it insulting.


None needed...

So we don't get lost in historical minutia, let me give you an analogy.

It was cold last winter, so I built a large stack of firewood, I placed a few gallons of gas next to the stack so that I would have no problems starting a fire if I needed to, you came along and threw a lit match on the stack, the whole thing went up in flame. who started the fire?

Of course you are right about the quality of the news, but on the other hand it is easier than ever to find massive amounts of information also about the important things from the net or from the newspapers.

The vast majority of the people get their news from TV.

It's in support of... hell. Something else.

Let me point out that the ME floats on an ocean of OIL.

"He who controls the Spice , controls the Universe." Frank Herbert

David Brin said...

ERic sayeth: “sigh* That's it. Reward the population of Iran that just rebuked their leader (exercising democracy) with a threat. That'll certainly turn them away from a rabid president that's insanely screaming about the Evil Empire (US).Idiots.”

How many times must I repeat it? The PERFECT pattern of saber-rattling at Iran has always been timed to help the mullahs. The “idiots” hypothesis is getting tiresome. I think it’s time to ponder the possibility that this has been the intent, all along.

Marcus, we must train ourselves how to deal with DQ. He does come in here and offer useful stuff, time to time, about the present clade of monsters. Let us concentrate on those and just shrug off when he comments on matters that are broader-based. Notice how he squirmed away from talking about how the allies saved Russia in WWII... nor promised to talk to any Iron Curtain survivors. He knows that turning his gaze that way... or to Schwerner and Goodman and ML King... or to Marshall’s deliberate anti-mercantilist policies... must demolish the image of Vile Liberal Amerikah...

Therefore he simply squirms away and screeches “well look at THAT!” at yet another crime.

Won’t work. Most of us here regret America’s behavior toward Mossadegh and Allende, and consider US actions in Cuba and Vietnam and Sandinista Nicaragua to have been stupid, thuggish mistakes, wrought by morons who never ever understood the grand strategy. The one that won the Cold War. SO screaming again and again about those mistakes really has limited relevance to the core fact...

...which is that no conceivable parallel universe has done as well, climbing out of the Nadir of Despair that the world was in - in 1942 - than the universes led. by LIBERAL Pax Americana.

I do not say it in order to be smug. I say it in order for us to rationally examine which deeds have worked and which schemes did not. Since there are plenty of events on both stacks, we can start to sort them and get guidance for the future. But the debate is dominated by dogmatists who refuse to see both stacks. Each insists that there is only one.

If we hold up the stack up allied sailors who died saving Russia our cynic dogmatist cannot see it! He will not read the words or grok them, let alone absorb their meaning. The same holds for right wingers crying “stay the course!” They shrug aside comparisons to Vietnam, even though the lessons are cogent and fierce.

(PS I will grant that those who control the oil now control our government. Good point, Don. Ponder it, folks. What could be more obvious?)

ERic said...

ERic: Makes it all the more obvious that no matter what this government says, it's NOT in support of democracy.

It's in support of... hell. Something else. I've seen so many theories at this point...


DQ: Let me point out that the ME floats on an ocean of OIL.

(having more liberally quoted myself for fuller context)

Wow. Gee, of the so many theories, I never heard of that one. Thank you so much for enlightening me.

The problem with being out here, one dweeb that reads the internet and occasionally contributes to the general internet babble, there's no way I have been able to get any true sense of the truth behind it all. Most likely because, while I'm certain that the one simple answer you offer is among the many driving forces behind all this, with all the different factions involved, there are far more likely to be several driving factors.

At this point, 20 or 40 or 60 years down the line, historians might be able to find some sense in all this mess.

But in the here and now, it all seems pretty stupid to me. Even the far rightie radio voices like Dr. Laura are spouting off about weaning ourselves of our oil dependency (and wasn't that the most head-turning thing I accidentally overheard recently! Riding with a friend, he switched from Air America to Dr. Laura, and they were saying the same damn thing.)

The question becomes, when will it sink into the Public At Large that we've been pulled around by our noses by a bunch of claptrap, and there are several other *real* reasons we went, and until we deal with those, Bush is not going to get us out of there.

There. Now I've joined the masses in ranting ineffectually.

ERic said...

Brin:
The PERFECT pattern of saber-rattling at Iran has always been timed to help the mullahs. The “idiots” hypothesis is getting tiresome. I think it’s time to ponder the possibility that this has been the intent, all along.

and

Most of us here regret America’s behavior toward Mossadegh and Allende, and consider US actions in Cuba and Vietnam and Sandinista Nicaragua to have been stupid, thuggish mistakes, wrought by morons who never ever understood the grand strategy.

OK. So ... I'm probably continuing to be an idiot here. But hey, let me dive on in.

1. I find the two comments above a little at odds. You're proposing that the current administration knows what they're doing... but then describe older US adventures with terms that seem to apply just as easily (and perhaps moreso) to the current idiots. Maybe I'm missing something here, but as far as I'm concerned. 'stupid' ~ 'idiots'.

2. Spell it out for me. You seem to often gleefully get into arguments with DQ... but never conclude anything. Maybe it's my short-term, I'm at work, internet/TV retention problem; or perhaps its me not being willing to acknowledge a reality that's obvious to both you and DQ, but what's the grand goal here? What's Bush's plan that he *wants* to rid the region of moderate governments? The very simple 1984 Keep Us In Fear So I Can Remain In Power?

SpeakerToManagers said...

David saith:
How many times must I repeat it? The PERFECT pattern of saber-rattling at Iran has always been timed to help the mullahs. The “idiots” hypothesis is getting tiresome. I think it’s time to ponder the possibility that this has been the intent, all along.

I have pondered this question lo these many months, and sometimes half-believe that they really are villains and not morons. But then I remember that I have known people, supposedly intelligent and well-educated people at that, who could not for their very lives look beyond the world view that was bequeathed to them by their parents and their teachers.

Bush may very well believe that al cultures and peoples are inferior to his own, and that their greatest desire is to have what he has. That would explain much of what he does. On the other hand, I'm not sure it makes much difference, since his actions (and the meta-actions he takes to remain in power so as to continue taking those actions) will be the same.

And on the gripping hand, I've pointed out in another venue that if you look at Bush as a flawed character, driven by paranoia and xenophobia to grab and hold whatever power he can, then we can see the last six years as a classic Greek tragedy, in which the protagonist's hubris brings down the wrath of the gods on him in the last act. This also means that it's our part to watch the spectacle and receive catharsis from his downfall and destruction.

This would be a lot easier to say with a straight face if the whole mess followed all the rules of tragedy: the entire action is supposed to take place in less than 24 hours. Six years is too much to ask for art, in my opinion. :-}

David Brin said...

Yes, I think we need to keep contemplating whether some of the destruction that has been done to Pax Americana may have been deliberate. But certainly not all of it. In fact, I have to believe that only a few members of the ruling coalition are genuine, bona fide Manchurian Candidates. Dick Cheney is the only one of whom I am absolutely certain.

(Point of evidence: his first duty, after the recent elections? Flying away from America, scuttling to brief his masters, summoned on the carpet to explain this setback.)

As for others? Well, Bill Kristol was on the Jon Stewart Show last night, charming and utterly insane as ever.

I wanted to shout just one word. "Alcibiades."

Let me explain.

I do not believe the classic neocon wunderkids like him and Adelman, Perles, etc are Manchurian Candidate shills working actively for a foreign power. There ARE those types, at the very top, but this does not describe the Straussians.

Nor are they jingoistic xenophobes like the fundamentalist right... who are motivated by only one driving passion. Hatred of liberals. Hate-em Hate-em Hate-em Hate-em Hate-em Hate-em Hate-em Hate-em Hate-em Hate-em.

I'm serious. Almost no stance taken by that member of the right wing coalition is motivated by wnything else. Abortion? Do you honestly think it is about believing that a cluster of cells is human? The fundamentalist wing of the Movement chose to latch onto abortion because of the "Jesus Effect" that I describe elsewhere. Knowing that Jesus was in all visible ways a socialist hippie, they needed a single issue that would force him to side with them, despite all his other, liberal, inclinations. Saving the lives of babies. It was a cheap and quick way to seize (in their eyes) the high moral ground from liberals. Take that!

But no, a majority of the Straussians are Jewish! So it can't be that, either.

Nor, do I believe, is it corruption. Sure, most of the Straussian-neocons sold out to the plutocrat funders of the Heritage Foundation long ago. But not in the deepest sense of becoming lickspittle stooges and henchmen. They dined with Rupert Murdoch and wallowed in his flattery on yachts, but I don't consider them actual members of the kleptocracy.

No, they are their own wing. Genuinely and sincerely utopian, believing that their agenda is the way to fix a damaged and broken world. (Tikkun Olam.) Claiming a deep knowledge of history, they know just enough to be horrifically dangerous.

Most of you will have to go look up Alcibiades, but if I said that one word to Kristol's face, he would instantly know what I was saying...

...and his face would go white as a sheet.

He would blanch, and then stammer and writhe, seeking some refuge in cavils and evasions.

But none of them can do it. Not Wolfowitz or Perle or Adelman or any of them. That one word would pierce their hearts, and tell them how deeply they have wounded a great nation and civilization that gave them absolutely everything.

Bright imbecilles... arrogant in ways that can only be achieved by overcompensating, four-eyed nerds who actually believe that THIS TIME the frat boys actually like them... they have been tools of far-worse monsters than tey are. And innocent intentions do not matter in the least.

They have helped to bring Athens down.

The very same Athens that they thought they would propel to new heights of glory.

Don Quijote said...

Wow. Gee, of the so many theories, I never heard of that one. Thank you so much for enlightening me.

Sometimes, what you see is what you get, and this is one of those cases.

Practically every conflict that has occurred in the ME since WWII has had one of two causes, Israel or Oil.

Mossadeq, OIL.
Iran-Iraq War OIL.
First Gulf War OIL.
Iraq Invasion/Occupation OIL.

And the next war will be about OIL unless it's about Israel.

but what's the grand goal here? What's Bush's plan that he *wants* to rid the region of moderate governments?

Basically what you are looking at is a large scale looting operation that failed, nothing more nothing less. Had things worked out the way, Shrub and company would have wanted, they would have their puppet in charge of the country who would then have privatized the Iraqi Economy, sold all state assets to the highest bidders and granted Oil concessions to the US & British Oil companies. As a bonus they would have built a series of Military bases that they could use to keep the Saudis in line and to threaten the Iranians while building up an invasion force to put a nice American puppet regime in Tehran, this done they figured they could use their leverage their control over the ME's Oil spigot to keep the EU, the Chinese and the Japanese in line.

The very simple 1984 Keep Us In Fear So I Can Remain In Power?

That's just a bonus.

2. Spell it out for me. You seem to often gleefully get into arguments with DQ... but never conclude anything.

I consider the goals & methods that I describe above to be SOP for the Empire, occasionally things turn out ok (Japan, Western Europe, Taiwan, South Korea), more often than not they turn out poorly as we loot and rape our way thru the landscape (Philippines, Colombia, Iran, Guatemala, Chile, etc...). Now Dr Brin thinks that because our actions have occasionally produced good or even great outcomes that we are a benevolent empire, I on the other hand have no such illusion, there is no such thing as a benevolent empire even though the fall of the empire may be worse than the empire and all empires fall.

David Brin said...

This last was actually articulately and well-spoken! Who are you? And what have you done with Don? ;-)

Als, the facts ain't with you. Yes, this war was partly about oil. But its aim (achieved) was to entirely ELIMINATE Iraqi production, so that Saudi and Iranian and Russian assets would be worth more.

Mission accomplished.

Fhydra said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Fhydra said...

ERic, I think your first question was answered by David well enough. There's the possibility that the mistakes committed back then were also commited by brillant morons.

As for your second question, I have a feeling that DQ is actually kind of cathartic for David. I might be wrong about that, but I don't really care either way. I usually just try to ignore both of them when they're arguing with each other.

You're probably right about multiple driving forces, but people will look for the simplest answer to everything they see in a situation, and they'll leave out factors they don't think really matter. So which forces do matter? Each of the different types of neocons still play an important part, even if they'll all lose a lot of their power soon, because they always come back, in one form or another. Other than that, I don't really know what neocons are trying to do beside picking fights. I'm not really happy with either DQ's or David's or anyone else's theories on why.

SpeakerToManagers said: the entire action is supposed to take place in less than 24 hours. Six years is too much to ask for art, in my opinion. :-}

You think this piece of work is only going to take six years? Hah! Patience. You don't rush art :)

Don Quijote said...

the facts ain't with you. Yes, this war was partly about oil.

What else could it be about? The only ministry they protected when they took over Baghdad was the Ministry of Oil.

But its aim (achieved) was to entirely ELIMINATE Iraqi production,

That's what they did cause they are incompetent jackasses.

so that Saudi and Iranian and Russian assets would be worth more.

Why would they want that? The Saudis, I could see, but the hated Iranians? or letting Russia get enough money for it to become a competitor again?

That makes no sense. Remember these people want the US to be the all powerful hegemon who can impose it's will on all the players at any given time.

Tony Fisk said...

Who is this 'they', DQ?

You might find the situation makes more sense if you reconsider your last statement in terms of: '(some of) these people want the US to be the all powerful hegemon who can impose it's will on all the players at any given time.'

These people are the straussian neocons David has been on about.

I think Bush is one of these. Dismissive of advice from the outer (even if it does come from entire cohorts of retired generals and statesmen). Prepared to repeat the same 'hold the course' action regardless of the outcome, he truly earns the epithet: 'Mad King George'.

And that's OK. It's what he's there for: a jester on the throne, set there to distract from the ones behind it.

And that's the other 'they'. The ones who have let the hegemon glory boys send the toy that hegemony comprises careening full tilt into the brick wall hidden behind the oil drenched cape they proferred. The ones who claim Rummy to be 'the best ever' (at what, breaking toys?)
The ones who go to Riyadh for advice and admonition when the toy starts getting cranky and ill-used.

The ones who report to those who have the second best toy: oil.

This is clearly one of the odd days when I'm into this r'oil thing. However, David, I am intrigued by the addition of Russia to the conspiracy.

David Brin said...

I added Russia on sudden (inspired?) impulse.

And no, I didn't mean it! No, I withdraw it. I do not want to snort Pollonnium. Heck, I don't even want to spell it right.

Let's just put it this way. TEN years ago there were conferences about "what to do about America and a unipolar world." Imagine, just a bit. What if some ver, very smart people from many lands came together and took the question seriously?

learner said...

DQ and Tony, thanks great summary.

I believe that there are no simple conspiracies and this discussion has identified many potential players and motivations.

What I do not understand is the belief that the senior string pullers are either Arabs or work for Arabs. I know that this sounds bigoted but the Muslim Arab world has been rife with internal conflict for almost 1500 years (not quite sure of the dates). This has kept them isolated and left behind technologically even though they once were the preeminent scientists and mathematicians of the world. Yes I know that oil has changed many things especially since the Saudi took control of ARAMCO. But can these people really have become so sophisticated that they could orchestrate such a complex plan to weaken the US and unite the Arab Muslim world?

Rob Perkins said...

Of course it's about oil.

I've been perplexed about this since 1991, actually. "No blood for oil!"?

If not for oil, which is the cotter pin of our entire world economy (until we wisely choose something else), we'd simply starve. Food distribution, let alone anything at all else, depends on it. That holds true even if we all switch to rail transportation...

TwinBeam said...

Odd that both DQ and DB seem to agree on one thing - that Iraqi oil production has been eliminated.

But even the most pessimistic estimates of Iraqi oil production show it going to zero only during the invasion, and immediately after bouncing back to about 80% of pre-war. Other estimates have it riding a bit above pre-invasion levels. Yeah, last year insurgents cut production in half by blowing up a key oil collection point - still not zero.

So if the invasion was intended to cut off Iraqi oil, IT WAS A MASSIVE FAILURE! ...Oh, wait a minute... :-)

Let me rephrase that - If that was the main goal, that was ANOTHER massive failure of the invasion. Proving that even if the administration had an evil master plan in mind, they blew that as well.

Can't we just agree that they're immoral idiots, not evil geniuses? And by "idiots", I mean that they think they're much cleverer than they really are, and it gets them in trouble time and again.

Joel said...

I don't think it's a mere tiff. More of a jpeg, what with all of those egregious anti-aliasing artifacts.

rushmc said...

No one is calling for impeachment now, even those calling for impeachment. What is being called for is *investigation.* Impeachment, as anyone who has vaguely been paying attention knows, will inevitably follow. But a call for impeachment sounds petty and vindictive (I am not as opposed to a little petty vindictiveness as some, but if you care about appearances, it's an important distinction), while a call for investigation merely sounds adult and responsible.

You do the country and truth itself a disservice by propagating the "accountability = a blame game" meme. Without accountability there can be no justice via the law, and without law there can be no civilization. You always argue the pro-civilization side...please don't aid those who would tear it down and reduce us to "right is what you can get away with today!"

You commit a crime, you pay for it, regardless of what political cover you seek to hide behind.

Anonymous said...

Careful guys. You're starting to sound like the extremist conspiracy theorists over at Jennifer Reitz's political section forum. While there is a saying "three times is enemy action", there's also another sad truth. Idiots constantly bumble through things. Iraq isn't a series of bumbles. It's one big one. It's one that has rippled through the entire global political landscape like the shockwaves of tsunami after a sizeable meteor splashes into the middle of the ocean.

The truth about conspiracies is this: they do not survive for long. One person can keep a secret. Two cannot. Three and more are apt at spreading the secret. At some point (unless you believe in the whole "mind control" shtick) someone would spill the beans in such a way we'd know there was a conspiracy.

---------

Also... Dr. Brin? I hate having to say this but... you're behaving in a petty manner of late. I think rather highly of you, but the recent bout of namecalling and sniping back and forth is not exactly a mature appearance. I understand this is your blog and I'm not trying to tell you what to write or the like (well, not completely) but appearances are important and I've recommended this blog to several friends. Now they're seeing backbiting and squabbling from you and others in this time of year which in theory is about coming together and being family and community.

There are better ways to defend your perspectives and answer attacks than to attack and thumb your nose at those you disagree with. I know, I'm one to talk... but I think highly of you and... this isn't exactly you at your best.

Take care...

Robert A. Howard, Tangents

David Brin said...

Learner, it is a deep mistake to underestimate the sons and grandsons of Ibn Saud, who brilliantly staged one amazing maneuver after another to rise from desert rascal to lord of all Arabia -- and one of the most successful sires since Ghengiz Khan. His numerous heirs are not only princes but among the best educated individuals on the planet... and among the most cohesively organized and motivated. Any “hick” image that anybody nurses should be dispelled. Whether or not we are in a full-fledged manchurian candidate scenario, or only one of profound common aristocratic interest, the mere fact that Dick Cheney got on a plane immediately after the recent elections, in order to explain them in Riyadh, speaks volumes.

Rob, the point is that we need to be world leaders in shifting away from dependence on oil. Even parts of the conservative apparat are starting to ask about this. They are just as perplexed as liberals are, by the deliberate sabotage of all US efforts to wean ourselves of the habit.

TwinBeam, pre-invasion levels were under an EMBARGO against Saddam. Oil-for-food, you’ll recall? Look I don’t say that demolishing Iraqi production was the only war goal. There were dozens of others. As I have repeated, if you were an enemy who wanted to do America harm, you might sift history for a scenario that DID harm us, before, and then try to get us to repeat it.

A foolish land war of attrition in Asia, accompanied by demolishing of our alliances, budget, military and social unity? Yum.

Hey, you are demanding that we agree to the standard hypothesis, the Idiots Scenario. But someone “contrary” is needed, in order to point out that “standard” theories aren’t always the only ones. Indeed, in this case, it simply does not fit the facts very well. LET ME AVOW THAT I WOULD NOT GIVE BIG ODDS THAT MY “PARANOID” SCENARIO IS TRUE, EITHER! I would not bet my mortgage. Moreover, I know it sounds a bit paranoid-loony.

But I am paid (or not) to be ornery and contrary! It is what I do.

It’s why you are here.

Which brings me to Robert. To whom I apologize if some of my comments have seemed less mature than they ought to. Still, let me remind you that I have repeatedly said this is a “thick skin” zone. Don Q is welcome here. Moreover, I wish Iridescent Cuttlefish would “get” how things work here, too. He seemed very bright, mature, articulate and promising...

Nevertheless, let me point out that your dismissal of conspiracies is very... modernist. Most of human history was rife with them. And I do NOT think we are out of “history” quite yet.

Yes, nearly all of the trends that I promote - transparency, openness, accountability, free speech, citizen action - will tend to help reduce the size and scope of future conspiracies and help Enlightenment systems to breathe and function. Innovations like my “Henchman’s Law” would help promote whistle-blowing. (Are you listening, George Soros?) Future conspiracies will have to be small...

...exactly on time for us to survive hubris/error-prone dilemmas like nanotechnology.

Still, I think you underrate the cohesiveness that can be maintained in a clade of - say - aristocrats whose psychology of smug superiority and fratboy solidarity combine with genuine (if rapacious) self-interest and family nepotism. Throw is racism and clan-ism, and you could very easily maintain momentum in a kleptocratic coup. Duh.

Of course it will be brittle in many places. With the RIGHT kinds of pokes, society has a chance of making such things shatter in a million pieces. See some of the suggestions I make at:
http://www.davidbrin.com/suggestions.html

I am especially intrigued by the possibility that a clever democratic Congress (an oxymoron?) could vitiate the Presidential Pardons that Bush has promised so many henchmen, in exchange for vows of silence. A canny maneuver. Alas, what are the chances?

Don Quijote said...

Who is this 'they', DQ?

"they", the nefarious elite who financed GWB's presidential run, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, the "Arkansas Project" in other words the "Owners of America" or a very large subset of them.

These people are the straussian neocons David has been on about.

They are just tools, how long do you think they would last in the world if there was not a Heritage, an AEI or other such foundations to support them financially.

Odd that both DQ and DB seem to agree on one thing - that Iraqi oil production has been eliminated.

It has not been eliminated, it has just been substantially reduced, and good chunk of the Oil being produced is being smuggled out of the country and used to finance the resistance.

The problem is that IMHO, one of the goals was that of being able to control the spigots, open or close them at will to keep the prices steady or to punish countries that are not willing to toe the line.

You're starting to sound like the extremist conspiracy theorists over at Jennifer Reitz's political section forum.

There is no secret conspiracy here, they have been upfront and honest about their goals.

Anti-War said...

"In fact, I think that when supposedly smart people spend a trillion dollars over four years on a relentless plan that squanders our international prestige, our goodwill and ability to lead the world, our soldiers’ lives, our national readiness, national unity and dozens of other treasures, it should at least be pondered -- on the table -- whether such a relentless and PERFECT pattern might have actually been the deliberate outcome, deliberately sought, by men who were and are far more frighteningly competent than we let ourselves imagine."

I actually had to do a standing ovation when I read this. Nicely put!!

I hope that somehow, someway, this madness would stop soon. Fighting violence with violence is never a solution. If Bush isn't careful, he may drag the entire country down with him. There are so many countries that increasingly dislike him (and in turn, his country), e.g. North Korea, that if he's not careful he may be subject to attacks by other countries while all his forces are tied up at Iran.

Rob Perkins said...

I'm happy to acknowledge the need for energy independence, and to rally for it. My district and state are very well represented on the matter, in fact, thankyewverymuch.

(And I would love love LOVE to see Detroit actually do some more incremental and smart things about emissions, rather than churning out redneck-mobiles for people to boil around in. Can we all say "plug-in hybrid minivan" together?

I would write my check for such a thing, with minimal dickering, if it were ever offered to me.)

But, that won't solve a short-term and forced interruption of the oil supply at all. Of course we ought to lead in independence from it. But it won't help matters at all if Iran and Venezuela decide on an embargo together.

So that's my question this time around: Is "no blood for oil" a really tenable situation? Would the lefties shout about it if they were hungry, because of a transportation shutdown which emptied the groceries?

Nate said...

On the subject of completely up-front conspiracies of crazy goals, I give you the Texas Republican Party Platform. The same Texas Republicans that the current President, and many/most of the current GOP came from. The link leads to a summary, the whole platform is a pdf linked at the bottom.

And a lot of the stuff there is downright batshit crazy. This is what they openly claim to want. If the Democrats would just point this out and exactly what it means in real terms, I doubt they'd even need any kinds of fancy ads.

Don Quijote said...

So that's my question this time around: Is "no blood for oil" a really tenable situation?

At the present time it is, and for the last fifty years it has been.

Would the lefties shout about it if they were hungry, because of a transportation shutdown which emptied the groceries?

If that were to happen, you'd have far bigger problems than a few lefties shouting slogans.

The truth of the matter is that we are the largest oil consumer in the world and the most wasteful. We could easily cut our consumption by 50% over the next ten years without substantially changing our lifestyle.

A Prius gets ~45MPG, Toyota has hybrid minivan in Japan, PSA has a Diesel Hybrid prototype that gets close to 70MPG.

The basic problem here is the gas is not priced correctly, the real price of a gallon of gas is the price of the product, the price of the road network the car uses, the price of the military needed to keep the Oil producing regions and governments functioning and the sea lanes opened and the price of the various externalities (Pollution, Global Warming, etc..). If all of the externalities were included in the price of a gallon of gas, I have a sneaking suspicion that a gallon would cost anywhere from $7 to $10 at the pump.

Rob Perkins said...

All well and good, and I'd dearly love to have the privilege of paying the $30k for that Toyota hybrid minivan, because then my person-miles/gallon goes from its current 175 p-m/g to almost 330 p-m/g, for my family's longhaul trips.

Alas, the ask will be $40,000 when Toyota finally drags itself to offer it in the U.S. And my local state rep has told me fascinating things about how difficult it is to even get a Fortwo SmartCar imported, when you can get 'em in Canada for $16k.

Makes me nuts.

Even so, DQ, I'm talking mostly about near term interruptions to the oil supply. Rather than see the citizenry of the U.S. starve, I'd deploy the Navy, at the very least.

Don Quijote said...

Even so, DQ, I'm talking mostly about near term interruptions to the oil supply. Rather than see the citizenry of the U.S. starve, I'd deploy the Navy, at the very least.

Considering that the US is the third largest Oil producer in the world, That Mexico is the fifth and that Canada is the eighth, I just can't imagine the level of incompetence and recklessness required to produce starvation in the US due to OIL shortages.

TwinBeam said...

Just a belated comment on the map of where the killed servicemen came from. To really convey the message David imputes to it, the numbers should be scaled by population.

Here's a link that gives a more accurate view of urban vs rural "willingness to go".

It appears that rural areas tend to enlist about 2x as many per capita, and in my quick analysis of the map - e.g. comparing Wyoming or Montana to California or New York, that distribution carries through to the casualties as well.

So I'd say you're wrong on this one, David.

Anonymous said...

Even so, DQ, I'm talking mostly about near term interruptions to the oil supply. Rather than see the citizenry of the U.S. starve, I'd deploy the Navy, at the very least
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