The political lamp is lit. Not in my usual way but a bit hurried and haphazard. (Still catching up, carelessly!) ANd yet, important stuff.
Before other matters, let us turn to Russ Daggatt:
Yesterday, Memorial Day, 10 more American troops were killed in Iraq. That brings the total so far this month (with two days to go) to 117. Last month it was 104. That is the first time since Bush started this war that over 100 US troops have died in each of two consecutive months. Over 80 have died in each of the past six consecutive months -- prior to that, there had been no two consecutive months with over 80 US dead. It just keeps getting worse and worse. 557 in the past six months. In the six months prior to that it had been 417. 974 in the past year -- exceeding the 807 of the year prior to that. Every year is worse than the previous year. Every six months is worse than the six months before that.
And yet, as I've noted repeatedly, I'm now more worried about the next war -- against Iran -- than I am about Iraq. Bush is going to run out the clock on the Iraq war and there is probably little we can do about it. Unfortunately for those of us worried about an Iran war, there are mounting signs that we will attack Iran before the end of Bush's presidency. Not a certainty, but better than even odds and growing. Take this tidbit:
The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com.
The pretext, that Iran is allying itself with Sunni Al Qaeda in Iraq, adds yet another layer to the head-scratching that any sensible person ought to be doing till he’s bald. Um... exactly who are our “friends” over there and who is attacking us?
The Shiite-dominated and Iran-friendly Baghdad government? Al Sadr’s Mahdi Army? The Sunnis who oppose Al Sadr and the government? But aren’t they Al Qaeda? Isn’t the answer than NOBODY is on the friends list and EVERYBODY is on the enemy list?
So what the $#@$&! are we even TRYING to do over there?
(An aside, are leaks like this a sign that the professionals are acquiring some backbone, at last?)
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The Globalist remains an online journal that churns out brief pieces ranging from utterly dreary-boring to perspective broadening to downright boggling. One in the last category tells about a concept called the “Palestinian Arc” that would seem to be one of the foremost examples of modernist, problem-solving ambition that I have seen in a long time! (And to qualify, an idea has to have aspects that seem at least a bit, well, crackpot.)
It is well-worth looking at, just to sit back and go :”huh! If only people were that sensible!”
Alas, the article ALSO ties this project it to “redeeming Dick Cheney’s legacy”... a dubious and vastly more far fetched project. Moreover, it assumes that the very people who have deliberately kept their Palestinian cousins in camps for three generations, in order to maintain a festering wound to blame on Israel, will suddenly change their mind and share some oil -wealth pocket change, in order to vitalize a vibrant and modern Palestine, that would only spread modernist memes throughout the Middle East. Oh, yeah. That’s gonna happen.
A side note, this project contains some elements of applying geometry to developmental planning. Something I have long urged.
Ah, but here’s something more “believably Cheney.”
“April 10, 2007 Halliburton Says It's Done in Iran - The Halliburton Company said yesterday that its subsidiary that does business in Iran had completed all its commitments and was no longer working in the country. In January 2005, the company, which was once led by Vice President Dick Cheney, said that it would not accept new work in Iran but that it would complete existing contracts there.” Comments Russ Daggatt: “I could never understand how Cheney got away with this Iran business. The sanctions law prohibits using a foreign subsidiary to get around the sanctions unless the foreign sub is truly independent of the parent.”
My answer is that treason is only treason if you aren’t the one calling the shots and controlling the government.
In a grim sign of the times, the "Wall of the Fallen," set up by House Republican leaders in June, is almost full. The mounting death toll from Iraq has forced U.S. House staffers to study how to reconfigure the display in the lobby of the Rayburn Building - the largest office building for members of Congress - to squeeze in more names.
Jamais Cascio has delivered another concise bit of wisdom in the form of a book review of John Robb’s BRAVE NEW WAR. Which joins the clade of modernist tomes that urge a model of western civilization that is based upon openness, adaptability and resiliency.
From Jamais’s essay:
Robb makes it clear that the tactics the United States (and, to a lesser extent, Europe and other post-industrial nations) now employs are bad, bad ideas. "Knee-jerk police states" and "preemptive war" fall into a category Robb borrows from security specialist : Bruce Schneier "brittle security." The big problem with brittle security is that, when it fails, it fails catastrophically; moreover, by employing these tactics, the U.S. (etc.) undermines the very moral suasion and memetic influence that are among the most important tools to fight empowered extremism.
I’ve not read Robb’s book, but I have to wonder if he cites Arquilla and Ronfeldt and their classic NETWAR and also IN ATHENA’S CAMP, two books that some years ago spoke cogently about matters of dispersed organizations taking on lumbering titans.
Looking more broadly, Robb lists three rules for successful "platforms," or sets of services, operating under his resiliency model: transparency (so all participants can see and understand what's happening); two-way (so all participants can act as both providers and consumers of the services); and openness (so the number and kind of participants isn't artificially limited). Again, these rules should sound very familiar to readers of (among other sites) Open the Future and WorldChanging. (Um... and, Jamais, some EARLIER sages on these topics? Ahem?)
I make a point of highlighting these similarities in order to demonstrate that the concepts that Robb discusses as a way of dealing with a particular kind of challenge actually have far broader applicability. An open, transparent, distributed and resilient system is precisely what’s needed to survive successfully threats from:
Natural disasters, such as tsunamis, earthquakes, and pandemic disease.
Environmental collapse, especially (but not solely) global warming.
Emerging transformative technologies, such as molecular manufacturing, cheap biotechnology and artificial general intelligence.
Open source warfare. and so on...
Jamais is one of the wise guys.
A final aside: watching Ken Burns’s wonderful CIVIL WAR documentary with my kids, I heard the way one Confederate soldier reacted, upon learning that poor men were to be drafted and kept in for the duration, while rich men were set loose to guy home and prosper and “keep an eye” on their slaves.
“Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight,” he muttered, in an expression that could easily apply to today’s war in Iraq, For we now face an incredible situation. In all of our past wars, the rich and mighty at least had the patriotism to step up and help pay for the struggle. But the elites behind today’s GOP, while calling upon the nation to sacrifice, deem nothing to be more sacred than their precious tax cuts.