Thursday, February 23, 2006

Funky memory lapses, flunky-flukes... and Fukuyama...

Re-lighting the political lamp....

==After Neoconservatism==

End-of-history=fukuyamaSome of you may have noticed that I’ve not dealt gently with Francis Fukuyama -- in some articles, for example, calling him a techno-luddite and a neoconservitive “Bush Administration court intellectual.” (See: The Real Culture War: Defining the Background.) A man of perception and ideas whose erudition has (alas) all-too often fallen short of its penetrating potential.

I wrote those words shortly before the 2004 election... even as Fukuyama was apparently commencing upon a process of soul-searching re-evaluation. A process that - rather than being a sign of deplorable wishy-washyness - should be respected and given due credit. Indeed, it is the opposite trait, obstinate devotion to dogmatic consistency, that most threatens our pragmatic enlightenment in an era of rapid change.

To see witness process in action - as Fukuyama wishes it to be seen - have a look at “After Neoconservatism” an article that appeared recently in the NY Times, wherein he worries about political and psychological effects of an Iraq intervention that has turned into a quagmire. Beyond the immediate costs, he sees the incompetent execution of an assertively “wilsonian” foreign policy (pursuing the utopian goals of “spreading democracy” and nation building) resulting in a revulsion, repudiation and rejection of wilsonian activism. Through their unnecessarily bellicose and divisive methodologies, the “idealistic” neoconservatives have undermined their very goals, creating an environment that has only encouraged both the left and right to drift backward, reverting to their more isolationist versions. He sees this as lamentable, at the very moment when a confident and assertive America may be key to making a better world.

miracleof1947While this conversion is welcome, indeed, a possible harbinger of the 1947-style mass-desertion by honest conservatives that I have long called for - a great awakening that could save a nation and civilization - I nevertheless despair when I see a bright fellow like this still clinging to straws. For example, his desperate need to claim that the debacle in Iraq is harming American assertive “wilsonian” confidence is clearly true. But to attribute this process of pain and discreditation to his former friends’ incompetence is - well - perhaps too reflexively forgiving.

I find it stunning how bifurcated the world seems to be, between those who reflexively seek conspiratorial explanations for strange events (e.g. Pearl Harbor and the Kennedy assassinations) and those “reasonable people” who reject conspiratorial explanations almost as a reflex. Yes, the former group includes a vast number of kooks and loonies. And parsimony demands that moderate and rational people (especially in a somewhat open society) adopt a first order attitude of “what you see is what you get.” I am especially caustic toward silly notions that FDR wanted us defeated at Pearl Harbor, and I find Lee Harvey Oswald totally credible as a lone gunman.

On the other hand, can “reasonable” men deny that history truly is rife with conspiracies? Moreover, when the parsimonious explanation of actual events is the conspiratorial one, should it be reflexively dismissed?

In the case of our recent behaviors in Iraq - where the sheer number of corrupt, inciting, and incompetent acts beggars the imagination - is it not at least worth contemplating that these events, that were authored by supposedly brilliant men, might actually have unfolded as planned?

Fukuyama complains that wilsonian-activist idealism is being discredited because it was poorly executed. But what if -- (please, just consider) -- what if that was the intention, all along?

Again and again, I keep urging that people ask this one question. “Who has benefitted from the recent sequence of events?” Is it possible that the beneficiaries of events might have intended to so benefit, all along? Is that not at least a simple hypothesis worth putting up alongside others?

There is too much in this, vastly too much, to comment upon further, right now. I must put this aside for later, when I’ll make a mini-essay out of it. Stay tuned for a more detailed discussion of such matters, using Francis Fukuyama as a centripetal focus.

For there are so many levels. Is there actually a chance that an intellect of the size and stature of Fukuyama’s might be weaned away from the blandishments and flattery of aristoklepts and the seduction of platonists, to find his home again among the likes of Franklin, Locke and Marshall? As I said, stay tuned.

==Memory Lapses==

Let’s see, in the last week, the president has denied knowing Abramoff, denied knowing that management of many of our seaports had been sold to gulf interests, denied knowing that his administration had cut sustainable energy research while he publicly called for more, denied knowing about rampant fraud in Katrina relief, and denied knowing about fraud in no-bid crony contracts that still haven’t lifted Iraq to pre-war levels of supply in electricity, gas, water and food. When Jimmy Carter said “I don’t know,” there was usually an implication -- “but I’ll find out.”

Well, alas. here are some other items.

In the past two years, the Union of Concerned Scientists has collected the signatures of more than 8,000 scientists -- including 49 Nobel laureates, 63 National Medal of Science recipients and 171 members of the National Academies - who accuse the Administration of an unprecedented level of political intrusion into their world.

Of course most of you already caught this, but really, just in case somebody didn’t. Attorney General Gonzales’s testimony before the Judiciary Committee last Monday offered the following gem: "President Washington, President Lincoln, President Wilson, President Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance on a far broader scale." and I used the word... “morons” to excess?

Oh, here’s a puff moment! I thank Stefan for finding this out: “George Deutsch, the political appointee put in charge of NASA public relations, who after a short career telling scientists to shut up if they knew what was good for them, recently had to resign... (and) The grad student blogger who uncovered Deutsch's fudged credential has Contrary Brin on his blog roll.”

And just when I was about to say “this isn’t doing any good...”

Oh, thanks , for citing the article about Bill Clinton.

It is vital that we remember one fact as the lefties who gave us Ralph Nader and Cindy Sheehan continue preaching their philosophy that the Democratic Party will win by “returning to its roots”... a political philosophy of always giving Karl Rove every provocation needed in order to stoke “Culture War.” That, all by itself, does not bother me. But to always choose the stupid fight over the fight that can be won? Let us recall that Bill Clinton not only won every fight. He won huge. Anybody who yammers that we need a different approach may be right... but they bear a burden of proof.


Mark said...

The conservatives are beginning to disown Bush, a process that will probably be complete in a couple years time so the next Republican to run can claim Bush was never really one of them, or at least try to make that claim.

For Iraq, I'm still not convinced all those involved in the evasion had the same motivation. I don't think this is turning out exactly as anyone wanted; even Chalabi and his Iranian buddies hoped Chalabi would be in control by now, but he is not.

So while there may be some underlining truth to your theory, I don't expect it will be quite the grand conspiracy. Perhaps just a set of smaller conspiracies.

On a completely different topic, check out he interesting ad on privacy at

Tony Fisk said...

The conservatives are certainly beginning to disown Bush wrt US port ownership.

(Now why would Bush want to veto blocking the sale to Dubai? More interestingly, how would a sale to another interest proceed?)

Conspiracies aside, incompetence and corruption make great bedfellows. Each nurtures the other.

"President Washington, President Lincoln, President Wilson, President Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance on a far broader scale." *that's* what Franklin was doing with that kite!

With Clinton doing the rounds, it seems appropriate to throw in a reference to Al Gore at the TED 2006 conference as well. Interesting talk, plus an interesting response to the question: 'Are you nominating in 2008 and if not, why not?' (quick interpretation: politics and how it operates is becoming less relevant to what matters...but I'm probably misinterpreting: go read for yourself)

jbmoore said...


Both Democrats and Republicans are tainted by lobbyists and soft money interests. Why do you keep hoping that either political party will get a clue? The GOP has more capable leaders but they marginalized them to get Bush Junior in power. Clinton had so much promise. He could have helped Russia transition more easily to democracy rather than slide back to autocracy. His administration let an Islamist terrorist organization grow in confidence and power. Their operations became more audacious. They nearly sank a $1 billion destroyer and their most successful attack destroyed more than two buildings in downtown New York. They destroyed American common sense and courage to an extent. How else to explain the herd mentality of people these days? Clinton's legacy is one of so much promise squandered. Bush's legacy is yet to be determined, but both administrations have probably hurt us as a nation rather than helped us. I don't so much care who leads us as a nation so long as he's the caliber of a Lincoln or FDR. Sadly, neither party seems to want leaders like that because they can't control them. I hope I am wrong. I wish for better things for this country and the World in general.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jbmoore are you seriously pushing the idea CLINTON was responsible for 911? thats how your post reads.
Or was perhaps the comanderin cheif at that time the guy who was turning down the briefings on Alquada as not urgent?

David Brin said...

I agree that Clinton’s promise was never fully fulfilled. But you are quite unfair. Do 8 years of peace and prosperity count for nothing? Or a government so well run that JD Powers gave Gore a special award for efficiency, increasing productivity while reducing the non defense payroll for the 1st time in 80 years? Or reducing secrecy for the first time in 50? Or being the first administration (despite GOP bluster) to have ZERO officials indicted for actual malfeasance in the execution of their public duties?

Or “spreading democracy” the right way, by engaging allies and using force only as a last resort, but then with ferocious precision. In the Balkans, an intervention that worked so well that nobody even remembers it? (Not one US serviceman died, our alliances were all ENHANCED, readiness preserved and Europe given peace after 4,000 years.)

By the way, someone earlier asked how “europeans were committing “genocide” against muslims.” Well, in a very sloppy way of defining “europeans” it happened in Bosnia and Kosovo, for five years. Clinton gained MUCH credit in the Muslim world for rescuing the Bosnians and Kosovars. Credit that frustrated the hell out of the terror cliques and the r-oil house, driving them to plan desperate measures. Credit that EASED the overall momentum of terror, while Bushco seem eagerly to recruit for jihad, every day.

Also BTW, the billion dollar destroyer was NOT “sunk” It had a hole blown in one side and was expensive to repair, but not in comparable replacement terms.

In fact, Clinton was a genius on a par with those other “greats” - but never became great. Why is that? I mean other than the towering insanity of Hillary’s overly ambitious Health Care Bill?

I don’t know. But one aspect of an answer is simply that it’s hard to be great in good times! Only one president ever managed that, Teddy Roosevelt, and he was not ONLY a genius. He also appeared when America had HUGE issues and many peacetime reforms on the docket. In that respect, though Clinton most resembled TR in personality, the man-of-reform-accomplishment who was most like TR was the tragic Lyndon Johnson.

Look, I don’t call dems perfect. Look at how I sling insults at the portion of the party composed of romantic leftist antimodernist dingbats. But in fact, those dingbats do NOT control the party (yet). Look around. The democratic party is the ONLY major american institution still controlled by its modernist elements. Elements that would propel us back into the business of financing scientific research and investing in sustainable technologies and tweaking market rules to reward new realities of an era when capitalism HAS to be a progressive force in the world, or we’ll all fail.

Moreover, they will end the secrecy and they will BICKER! You cannot even conceive of a democratic congress acting like lickspittle lap dogs to a democratic president. It cannot happen. (Has it ever?) Contrast that to today’s Congress, the most useless legislature since the Roman Senate of 200 AD. (Proof, Bush has YET to cast even one veto in 6 years... and Congress has issued almost NO subpoenas upon administration officials. Unprecedented in the annals of US government.)

Tony say hi for me to folks at TED.

Mark said “ On a completely different topic, check out he interesting ad on privacy at

Alas, now I must veer my ire 180 degrees.

I really HATE this Pizza metaphor for invasions of privacy. It shows the ACLU at their very most stupid. It utterly misses my point about reciprocal accountability.

What is their proposed solution to a world in which Big Brother can see all? Or in which snoopy little brothers like that pizza busybody see all? They offer no solutions! Other than perhaps suggesting regulations to restrict information flows, and thus which will only FAVOR the mighty.

I really want to do an ANSWER to that stupid pizza thing... in this answer the caller says:

“Hold on a second miss.... Mabel Smith. I see you’ve just begun work for Pizza Palace, and... yes, you signed their public policy on courtesy. One of the reasons that I’ve chosen to be a customer, instead of taking my business to Pizza Empire or Pizza Heaven...

“Hm, well Miss Smith. I’ve been tracking during this conversation and I’ve noted four violations of that policy so far.... and, uh-oh... I see you’ve already lost two jobs so far, for doing stuff like this.

“Aha! In desperation, your mother has posted a public notice on her blog, asking any future victims of your penchant for excessive nosiness to report the incident to her and also to... ah, I just sent a copy of this transcript to your therapist whose email your mom kindly...

“What’s that? My meat lover’s delight pizza will be there by the time I reach home? Thanks! That’s the kind of service I look for. It’s why I keep choosing Pizza Palace. Best of luck, Miss Smith.”

It’s called reciprocal accountability. And not a single person at the ACLU seems to grasp the concept. Their worries are spot on. But they cannot perceive that the ultimate solution to all the threats against citizenship must boil down to... citizen empowerment!.

But they will never get the fools who believe that “democracy is all about majority rule. Alas, our civil liberties “protectors” are clueless. This is something we’ll have to do for ourselves.

Anonymous said...

That's something I've been finding quite annoying as well, Dr. Brin.

Look, folks, I'm as much in favor of keeping private information private as anyone this side of a child pornographer, but it's a little late now. As someone (I think Heinlein, but I could be wrong) once sagely observed, "You can't stuff the mushroom cloud back into the shiny uranium sphere." Our information is already available to anyone who wants to do a little data mining; the obvious solution, since we can't pull it back now, is to make Big Brother just a s subject to our scrutiny. To paraphrase Nietzche, as the Abyss stares into us, we also stare into the Abyss.

jbmoore said...

Did any of you read the 9/11 Commission Report. I read most of it. Clinton had opportunities to kill Bin Laden which he didn't take because Tenet disagreed with his field operative, and Sandy Berger nixed others. I didn't say that the destroyer was sunk. It was nearly sunk if not for the excellent damage control of the Cole's crew. Bin Laden and his people were encouraged by that attack. You can see a pattern of Bin Laden and his crew getting bolder throughout the 90's. I think Sandy Berger was more responsible than Clinton for letting Bin Laden and his organization get away with increasingly more lethal attacks on Americans overseas. So, Clinton must share some of the blame for letting Bin Laden get as big as he did. His organization didn't just appear overnight.

Does everyone remember the pain when the Internet Bubble burst and small investors got screwed by Wall Street? Clinton let Congress dismantle legislation set in place in the 1930s to prevent conflicts of interest between commercial banks and investment banks. The Internet Bubble and its fallout were due to three things:
1. The government (Executive Branch) not enforcing the securities laws on the books.
2. The lie propagated by the telcos that Internet growth was growing exponentially (when such growth was preposterous).
3. Investors not doing their research and investing poorly.

Soldiers were killed in Somalia (which Clinton inherited from Bush Sr.). The Somalia pullout didn't help us either internationally as we appeared weak to terrorists, but Clinton didn't put us in that mess.
Russia was an opportunity squandered.These things happened during Clinton. The GOP has done much worse.

I'm just saying not to put too much stock in either party and to be critical of both. Neither will have the American People's interest at heart. True leaders listen to the people and act on what they hear. Neither Clinton nor Bush met that definition. Lincoln did. FDR did.

Anonymous said...

re Big Pizza Brother: can I just point out how user-friendly that application looks. If we really want to bring transparancy to the people, we shouldn't bother them with a concept like "data-mining" but just give them an idiot-proof point and click user interface that anyone can use. Let no one be left behind.

Don Quijote said...

Why is that? I mean other than the towering insanity of Hillary’s overly ambitious Health Care Bill?

Overly ambitious, I think not! It was not ambitious enough. It tried to solve a problem while making the people who caused the problem happy and failed!

She should have gone for the simple and basic solution, a single payer system which covers all Us citizens and guarantees access to basic health care, a solution we will come to when everything else will have failed.

Anonymous said...

@ Brin

By the way, someone earlier asked how “europeans were committing “genocide” against muslims.” Well, in a very sloppy way of defining “europeans” it happened in Bosnia and Kosovo, for five years.

No, no, no. You totally misunderstood me. Of course the Serbs were engaged in genocide against the Kosovar Muslims. My point was that the fellow in the interview was doing his very best to imply that those actions were representative of all Europeans. Not a sloppy definition, but highly targeted spin.

As for the greats, I agree completely about TR. I've often thought that the presidency in the US in the period since the end of the war is comparable to that between Andrew Jackson and Lincoln (or maybe even TR). A long string of rather forgettable men occasionally punctuated by someone who stands out. In this analogy, we're currently going through a new version of the Polk administration.

Mike Treder said...

David, are you suggesting that Fukuyama might be on his way to becoming a 'maturationist'?

Anonymous said...

"I really HATE this Pizza metaphor for invasions of privacy. It shows the ACLU at their very most stupid. It utterly misses my point about reciprocal accountability."

What point? Seriously? I think the ACLU is spot on. The ANSWER you've constructed seems inane to me because it is based on a completely erroneous premise, to wit that the caller is talking to another person. He is not. Oh sure, technically there is a human on the other end of the line, but she is not functioning as such, merely as the agency for a corporate policy. And when technology permits (soon), the human operator will doubtless be replaced by a more reliably mechanistic device.

Yes, I have read your book on this topic, David, but I'm still a long way from buying in. Knowledge only equates to power if you have a way to leverage it, and as we slip further into Corporatism, power centers become ever less accountable and the kind of reciprocity you posit becomes ever less probable, in my opinion. Privacy issues are only one facet of an overarching problem.

This, by the way, is what "anti-globalists" are actually squawking about. The erosion of democratic sovereignty. Corporate feudalism.

Rob Perkins said...

I've said this before, that a count of "acutal indictments" is probably one of the poorest metrics of how the Clinton administration behaved.

"Do 8 years of peace and prosperity count for nothing?"

They count for something. What people really seem to miss is that those *seven* (ahem) years of "peace" and prosperity were not followed by anything approaching either the Great Depression *or* the much-smaller-than-the-Great-Depression recessions of the 70's and early 80's.

(The recession began before Clinton left office, the USS Cole was not bombed while Bush was on watch, and it's singularly useless, except as a placemarker, to lay the entire economy on the head of the President anyway, good *or* bad, in my opinion.)

Any pizza delivery company which actually *used* the kinds of tactics in that ad to deal with customers would be out of business in a month. The ad isn't stupid because it's possible for people to learn all that stuff about someone and use it. Rather, it's stupid for assuming it will take the government to gather that information!

Car insurance companies are already treating us in exactly that manner. And everyone who drives a car has to buy it. It would have been far more telling for the ad to have been a conversation with someone calling GEICO. With the rep having a heavy Southern Indian accent as well, if you want to take the demagoguery all the way overseas...

Of course, since GEICO isn't properly a *government*, the more-true scenario would probably not serve the ACLU's case nearly as well as an unrecognized and hyperbolic straw man argument.

(Honestly, is *that* tactic any better than some of what the Bush Administration has pulled with the "why do you hate America" stuff?)

And the "Take Action" link led to a "page not found" on the ACLU site, which of course also means that they just unleashed undirected anger. If not the worst kind of anger, it certainly is the most useless.

Anonymous said...

I think I finally figured out who benefits from the Bush administration.


Jon Stewart, Jay Leno, and all the rest, have had a field day with how bloody stupid everything is. I believe that one of them said something like "If Bush is elected, it will be a great day for [us] but it will be a sad day for everyone else" in an interview I read.

I'm just joking, of course, but so are they. ;)

Anonymous said...

redkitty: "Knowledge only equates to power if you have a way to leverage it"

Absolutely true. Being able to watch injustice happening and not being able to do something about is extremely frustrating. But isn't it worse if no one knows about it and there is no hope that anything will be done about it in the future? Secrecy will only help bad corporations do their evil thing. The more openness the less secrecy the more accountability. Okay, transparancy works in both directions, that's a little scary now but we'll get used to it.

"The erosion of democratic sovereignty."

Now that's really scary. Of course (multi)national corporations can not be given free rein and worldwide monopolies can not be allowed. The only real power these corporations have lies in their money with which they can bribe people. Again, secrecy is all-important for this to occur and transparancy is the enemy.

Anonymous said...

Oh, on "Corporate feudalism", I think it's bad for business, but that's just me thinking...

David Brin said...

For an example of how citizen empowerment might help against terrorism... and in fact it is the ONLY long term solution, see

As for Hillary’s health care bill, I stand by my denunciation of that ill-conceived (if well-intended) effort. Just look at RESULTS! Do we actually have health care?

In fact, there were some fine, innovative features. Her proposal honestly tried to use capitalistic competitive methods to avoid the pitfalls of a giant state bureaucracy, by allowing Americans to group in voluntary “alliances” to negotiate with insurance companies. It was brilliant... and pathetically easy for the neocons to satirize with charts of bewildering complexity. As a result -- the only effective result of her health care plan -- was that the GOP took over both chambers of Congress and Bill Clinton was reduced to being an administrator for the next 6 years!

A job he did mostly superbly. But all the “grand visions” were no more. A man with the world-reforming ambitions of Teddy Roosevelt was reduced to striving for the administrative successes of Eisenhower, nurturing efficiency and unprecedented prosperity while building America’s leadership around the world. Not the worst fate imaginable. But he could have been much more.

If only (for instance) Hillary had been willing to go incremental.
If she had said: “Let’s insure all American Children first!”

Americans who are hostile to socialistic solutions in general tend to be much LESS hostile when the state focuses on taking care of kids. Because sane people know that it DOES “take a village” and that uninsured kids are not poor through any, any, any fault of their own. The GOP would not have DARED to oppose this. And with a major accomplishment like this, the following Congress (even if Newt did take over) would have had to listen to Step II... and then Step III.

Yes, Hillary was utterly modernist and I don’t dislike her. But let’s recall that modernism also has its flaws. These are the flaws displayed by Frank Lloyd Wright, by Robert Moses and LeCorbusier and the arrogant SOBs who built horrific apartment “towers” for the poor in all our cities, exacerbating poverty instead of alleviating it. The overweening technocratic “I know best” hubris of Robert MacNamara and his crowd. The prideful conceit that modernists can show, when they fall for every “human nature” blandishment of ego and turn away from the cleansing power of CITOKATE.

My God, the romantics and the enemies of the Enlightenment have enough ammunition already, drawing upon the nostalgic-feudal instincts of our past. Must we give them ammunition?????

DemetriosX says: “ In this analogy, we're currently going through a new version of the Polk administration.”

Guh! If only! I’ll be happy if these guys are looked back like Hoover! What I deeply fear is that they will be seen as equivalent to Buchanan, and that only pain, pain, pain will dig us free.

redkitty, the POWER of the pizza customer lies NOT in his ability to punish the pizza employee, but in his power to punish the pizza COMPANY. Capitalism relies upon customers who individually have very little power (short of tort law) but who can either agitate en masse for regulation or (far better!) simply vote with their feet to buy from someone else.

But none of these recourses are available to masses who are kept ignorant! I fear corporate feudalism as much as you do. The difference is that my prescription has a track record of growing success for 200 years. We are using one result, right this moment.

Doug, come on. Clinton was much kinder to comedians! Because when we laughed at him (a lot!) it was not tinged with worry and pain, and horror and pain, and disgust and pain.

....well, yes, some disgust. I mean, Monica? ew? And her roommate... ew,ew,ew....

Anonymous said...

Um, I said I was joking. At least we get to laugh at his misstatements and bad grammar, though. Then again, some of the quotes can be more frightening than funny if you consider them in the right (wrong?) way.

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

"The ambassador and the general were briefing me on the — the vast majority of Iraqis want to live in a peaceful, free world. And we will find these people and we will bring them to justice."

Anonymous said...

On the subject of the Bushie regime, voting machines, and transparency, has anyone seen this article that was linked from slashdot today?

Some evidence of Florida voting machine glitches and manipulation may be appearing in their log files.

Kagehi said...

Someone once said, "Never subscribe to malace what can be more easilly explained by stupidity."

I have been reading blogs, most Iraqi, since almost the day we invaded. These are the consistent patterns I have seen the entire time:

Press - During the intitial phase, they embedded and you got "all" the news, after some started getting shot, all the news you ever got from them was negative. They admit to getting nearly all information now from Iraqi reporters, since they refuse to actually make an effort to verify anything now, for fear of kidnappings or being shot at.

Iraqi reporters - All over the spectrum. Some report only bombings, some report good news, some are pro-Sunni, some pro-Shia, and in those last two cases what is reported has more to do with which groups appreared to blow something up, than the truth.

Bloggers - Even more all over the place. Some are so pro-insurgent they blame "everything" on the US. Their neighbor could show up at the front door, scream, "I hate you!", shoot the family pet and its the US fault the neighbor hates them. **But**, the resent trend over the last 5-6 months has been for even the pro-insurgents to start differentiating between Iraqi and Al Queda insurgents. Before they barely admitted foreign Jihadi where in the country. As for those not pro-insurgent... Same as the Iraqi reporters. Some focus on their sectarianism too much. Others though have been reasonably sane.

Baghdad - Mess from the start, mess now. What do you expect? If we had an invasion in the US, does anyone seriously think opertunistic foreign terrorists are going to be concentrating on Stix, Idaho, instead of Washington, DC? Which brings us back to the news.

The only time you hear a damn thing from any place in Iraq *except* Baghdad, its usually some soldiers dying. Maybe a few days later they get around to mentioning that they died capturing 150 terrorists some place, but initially its just, "Five people died today." That and when they can't avoid reporting on it, like Tal Afar. And even then, you have to go to the Iraqi, or some Australian like CMAR II, to find out what really took place. Is it really so @$$@%%# hard for the US press to get information?

Reconstruction - If you listen to the news, there hasn't been any. At least not until someone lost track of money, then all of the sudden its an issue.

How many regions are reasonably peaceful - Even I can't figure that out. I have some names of some cities, some changes in trends that are positive, some places that are simply to boring even for the Iraqi press to talk about. But no one seems to have a damn map showing what has been accomplished.

See, my problem is, I think Iraq, while a lot has been screwed up, is succeeding, but not in the way any one predicted, and certainly not in the way some suggest. Why the hell for instance would Iraq be talking about becoming a NATO member in the future, while turning Iranian? Sure, someone should have shot Sadr a long time ago, but having some fools elect people from his faction isn't the end of the world, not when Iraq is talking about things that would make connections to Iran damned uncomfortable for the people that have them.

You want to know what I think? Bush is having strings pulled by fundimentalist elements, but isn't rational enough to make reasonable decisions himself, even with that help. He makes stupid choices, because he can't really see the consequences, but he *is* bright enough to realize that the only hope for his domestic agenda to go unnoticed is to downplay any success that is going on in Iraq, and *especially* when it is happening "in spite" of his leadership, not "because" of it. If he can keep the left, too many on the extremes of whom have literally imho stepped off the end of the pier of rationality, to find a cliff under them, distracted by a press that won't get direct information, propoganda from the terrorists that gets treated as factual, because it supports the "assumed" situation, and the obvious lack of any attempt to fix the failures of the military press corps to provide reasonably complete, timely or accurate information, he figures we won't notice how many lunatics like Deutsch he has successfully appointed to every position of importance in the entire country.

Beside which, I make occational spelling mistakes or sustitute words, but Bush has the longest list of stupid comments, failed logic and incomprehensible gibberish I have ever seen. Some people can get high grades, graduate from colleges, etc. and still be complete idiots when it comes to problem solving and critical thinking. I know an entire family of people like that. The most recent one moved back in with his parents, who get scammed right and left all the time, because he can't afford an appartment, due to being in debt for a car, student loans and a whole mess of other BS, including multiple credit cards. These fools jump at every deal, without thinking about it, pick people based on price, who then screw them, etc., etc., etc. I wouldn't be surprised if one of their kids became a republican candidate in the future. lol

In any case, the most obvious conspiracy I can see here is that Al Queda handed a mental midget the perfect excuse to do every fucked up, stupid and badly thought out thing Bush has ever dreamed of. Some of this he is managing for "security reasons", the rest he is pulling off while we sit around arguing about if, how badly and in what way he screwed up Iraq. And its all working perfectly.

David Brin said...

I agree that we were lured into a land war in Asia. Du'uh. If you were an enemy of the fantastically successful USA, and looked across the last 70 years for mistakes that threatened our social cohesion, confidence and will, you'd find only one, Vietnam. The OBVIOUS thing to try to do would be to repeat the KGB's success in luring that macho idiot, JFK, into "paying any prica and bearing any burden" so long as it's macho and stupid.

THAT is the real reason Osama targeted us on 9/11 in a splashy way. Think! What actual practical benefits did he draw? 2,000 dead and 5Billion$ damage? Big deal? The wave of world sympathy that gushed over us in the aftermath were worth that much, easily. (More people die every month in traffic.)

No, he had to be wanting to goad us into DOING something. And that something was chasing him to Afghanistan. And we did.

Think. Osama's personal glory days were spent humbling one superpower, the soviets, in those rocky hills. Psychologically, it's obvious. Moreover it worked on paper, too. No empire since Alexander has gone into the Kush without screaming in pain and regret.

Only then things went sour for OBL's plan. We went into Afgh... and won handily, easily, using agile doctrines and clever alliances on the ground and all the techniques that worked well in the Balkans. Lest anyone give Bushco credit, NONE of the war plan was Rumsfeld's or Cheney's. W had time to say "go!" The plan set in motion was Shinseki's and Clarke's and... Clinton's.

Actually, I'm even willing to let W bask in that success, too. (Comparative success. Compared to history and any reasonable expectations. Compared to misery and hell.) It was amazing... and then we have to spoil it.

Those kinds of agility and efficiency could have been used against Saddam. There are dozens of options other than the undermanned grunt-force attrition ground war followed by unprepared and botched occupation that Rummy chose as our "plan", reversing every doctrine that worked in Afgh and the Balkans.

With open eyes... and without even the drive of vengeance or the war on terror to propell us... we deliberately walked right back into a land war in asia. (LWIA)

Think! Who did this benefit!

Yes, it benefitted Iran, but our SMART plan would have benefitted Iran too. So it's complicated. (It would have been a very different Iran.)

No, you know damned well who has benefitted from us walking into a LWIA.

Another matter. Here's a stat relevant to our previous discussion " 70% of the impoverished population on this planet live in rural areas.”


Um, is it any wonder they flock to the cities & coasts for those exploitive jobs?

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with you one one point. The "plan" to defeat Saddam's army wasn't stupid. It worked, worked brilliantly, and probably would have worked with the much smaller force Rumsfeld originally asked for. I do agree, however, that they did not have any reasonable plan for what to do AFTER Saddam's army collapsed. Essentially, they forgot that it is a lot easier to conquer than to rule.

On another note, management guru Peter Drucker once wrote that the much maligned "sweatshops" and slums of the late 19th/early 20th century city were actually a big improvement in living and working conditions when compared to the rural poverty that most of the workers were trying to escape from.

Anonymous said...

Patrick Farley slyly comments on the disingenous spin the administration's allies put on attacks on the Dubai port management fiasco:

You know, I really wouldn't mind this UAE outfit managing those containers ports. It's just another heartless and unaccountable multinational, and for all I know they may be better able to do the job than other heartless and unaccountable multinationals. Learning economies and all that.

But the political machinations that resulted in the deal stink to high heaven. The fuss has uncovered another layer of unseemly revolving-door deals between government officials and big business. For that reason this beast has to be thoroughly flayed open and exposed to the sunlight.

* * * *

" . . . management guru Peter Drucker once wrote . . ."

History is (re)written by the victors.

* * *

" . . . simply vote with their feet to buy from someone else."

Of course, if the old shopping district is a ghost town and the only pizza in town is sold by the "Little Casears'" in the lobby of Wal-Mart, you're pretty much screwed on this account.

David Brin said...

The main thing about "Dickensian factories" that is never never ever mentioned is actually what they MADE.

What they made was....

soap and cheap clothes and paper and pencils and books and soap and furniture and kettles and stoves and soap and more cheap clothes buses bricks window glass more soap bath tubs door locks soap waterpipe gaspipe electric wire and more soap

And so on...

think! Before industry there was less.... stuff! And less stuff wasn't idyllic and innocent, the way romantics make it out to be. Oh, sure, TODAY we've got too much stuff! But think. We buy way too much stuff SO THAT PEOPLE IN THE FACTORY COUNTRIES CAN ALSO MAKE ALL THE STUFF THEY NEED.

Addidas is the example? Okay, Malaysian Addidas workers don't get to wear the prime products they make. But they do get the slightly flawed ones, and that factory or the one next door makes tons of the cheap domestic shoes, too. Find me the shoeless waifs wherever this happens.

This is NOT rose-colored glasses. It is being contrarian. There is a difference.

I hate the plutocrat kleptos who don't want the system to work this way, but who instead want a return to serfs and slaves.

Anonymous said...

I'll quote Peter Drucker himself on this:

To be sure, industrial work paid poorly until the First World War. But it paid better than farming or household work. Industrial workers in the United States until 1913 - and in some countries, including Japan, until the Second World War - worked long hours. But they worked shorter hours than farmers and domestic servants. What's more, they worked specified hours: the rest of the day was their own, which was true neither of work on the farm nor of domestic work.

The history books record the squalor of early industry, the poverty of the industrial workers, and their exploitation. Workers did indeed live in squalor and poverty, and were exploited. But they lived better than those in a farm or household, and were generally treated better.

Proof of this is that infant mortatlity dropped immediately when farmers and servants moved into industrial work... the largest single factor in the exponential drop in infant mortatlity as industrialization spread surely was the improvement in living conditions brought about by the factory. Housing and nutrition became better, and hard work and accidents came to take less of a toll... The early factory was indeed the "Satanic Mill" of William Blake's great poem. But the countryside was not "England's green and pleasant Land" of which Blake sang; it was a picturesque but even more satanic slum.

Kagehi said...

Hmm. Case in point about the press' skewed view:

Odd how the only people that seem to want a civil war over there seem to be some Americans...

This is an historical event. Clerics from two divisions of Islam, who have been fighting each other over some supposed betrayal 700 years ago, standing together to proclaim, "We don't support this sort of thing." Its almost as unbelievable, according to everything I have ever heard from Iraqis themselves, and most other Arabs as well, as finding Evangelical Christians standing next to Atheists to protest something. One would normally expect them to stand on opposite ends of the room and pretend they other side wasn't there, at the minimum. And it shows why the attacks trying to force one have gotten *bigger*, more specific in implying sectarianism and more focused on random targets, instead of coalition forces. The people trying to make it happen are not getting what they want and every time they do something, they actuall get "more" resistance and less successes against it continuing.

I wonder if Bush's and Zarqawi's teachers, with respect to basic logic, where related... They both have a very loose grip on the concept of self induced embarassment and personal failure, while both having an almost mind numbing belief that trying the same stupid thing over and over will actually work at some point, instead of just producing more failures.

Anonymous said...

" . . . simply vote with their feet to buy from someone else."

Mm-hm. I used to keep two separate MasterCard accounts, precisely so I would have some recourse if one of the companies started misbehaving. Both of these (already large and multiply merged) finance corps have now been gobbled up by Chase, which seems to be buying everything in sight lately. Or check out media consolidation since the 1996 Telecommunications Act (another win for Clinton! Yay!)

The old-fashioned, dare I say romantic, notions about business practices that you guys are talking just don't correlate well with the real world. I, for one, welcome our new corporate Masters. (really!)