Sunday, December 31, 2006

War Is Not A Physics Problem

Some people have the idea that all wars are optional. Or at least a vast majority are for America. This especially includes Iraq.

Some wars are matters of survival. i.e. it is not always possible to choose your enemy. Sometimes the enemy chooses you.

It is possible to choose how to fight the enemy. Boots vs. bombs. However, boots can discriminate targets better than bombs can. They can also perform other useful tasks such as making friends and gathering intel. However, boots are limited by those in the military age range in any year. In the US we get about 1 million men entering that age range every year (which forms the main recruiting pool). The military gets about 10% of that pool every year. About the maximum possible in an all volunteer force. To increase the size of the force moderately rapidly (20,000 a year say), you would need to greatly increase retention rates. For that to be feasable you would need that many adequate performers who would like to be retained but are not due to Congressional force size limitations. Which I do not believe is the case.

Then you have the question of punitive expeditions vs transformative expeditions. One is quick, but often leaves a mess with the high likelyhood of having to cover the same ground repeatedly. Our you go in for a transformative expedition where your time horizon is much longer. All this affects troop man days spent in the field.

And lots of similar questions. Some political, some military, some economic, some cultural, some turning on social structure, some logistical, some technological, some related to infrastructure, etc., etc., etc.

All of this is complicated by the need to keep the oil flowing so civilization doesn't collapse.

On top of that there is reaction. The enemy is always adjusting strategy, tactics, and war aims in response to our moves as we adjust same in response to his. And then there is the problem of keeping alliances together and disrupting enemy alliances.

Which is what makes the whole question a wicked problem. You can't easily isolate the factors the way you can in a physics problem.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Happy New Year 2007 - Open Thread

This is an open thread for all my readers who might wish to pass on New Years greetings (or any thing else) to each other.

Prompted by Commenter Gleds

Friday, December 29, 2006

Corruption Is Routine

For those who have been following the Duke "Rape" Case you will know that it is a case of egregious prosecutorial misconduct. And yet there are similar cases every day in the USA. Why don't such cases recieve wide publicity? Simple - if such procedures were shown to be widespread the "justice" system in America would collapse.

Ankle Biting Pundits are outraged at the misconduct in the Duke case. Yeah. Sure. The outrage is palpable. No doubt.

Now tell me why testilying in drug prohibition cases is so common that we have a name for it? Alan Dershowitz in testimony before Congress said:

Police perjury in criminal cases - particularly in the context of searches and other exclusionary rule issues - is so pervasive that the former police chief of San Jose and Kansas City has estimated that "hundreds of thousands of law-enforcement officers commit felony perjury every year testifying about drug arrests" alone.
A few bad apples no doubt.

BTW any one notice how alcohol prohibition corrupted our justice system? I thought not.

In other words save your phoney outrage for the ignorant. What Nifong (the DA in the Duke case) did is an outgrowth of what goes on in America every day in every jurisdiction. Who will call for a clean up of that? Or is it another case (like Nifong) where jobs depend on it?

Christopher Slobogin in the University of Colorado Law Review shows why testilying is so corrosive:
Perhaps most importantly, police lying intended to convict someone, whether thought to be guilty or innocent, is wrong because once it is discovered, it diminishes one of our most crucial "social goods" — trust in government. First, of course, the exposure of police perjury damages the credibility of police testimony. As the aftermath of the Fuhrman debacle has shown, the revelation that some police routinely and casually lie under oath makes members of the public, including those who serve on juries, less willing to believe all police, truthful or not. One comment that a New York prosecutor made about the impact of the Simpson case illustrates the point: "Our prosecutors now have to begin their cases defending the cops. Prosecutors have to bring the jury around to the opinion that cops aren't lying. That's how much the landscape has changed."

Police perjury can cause other systemic damage as well. Presumably, for instance, the loss of police credibility on the stand diminishes law enforcement's effectiveness in the streets. Most significantly, to the extent other actors, such as prosecutors and judges, are perceived to be ignoring or condoning police perjury, the loss of public trust may extend beyond law enforcement to the criminal justice system generally.
Here is a bit by Scott Morgan on the corruption of police power in drug prohibition:
First, a revealing story of police misconduct from The Journal Inquirer in North Central Connecticut:
A Hartford police detective arrested days after his retirement in 2004 on charges of falsifying an arrest warrant has been granted a special form of probation that could lead to his arrest record being expunged.

The decision came after a hearing in which [Sgt. Franco] Sanzo's lawyer, Jake Donovan of Middletown, called another retired officer who said that police frequently sign their names to warrants - and swear before judges - that they've seen things they haven't.
So basically Sanzo's defense was that this type of misconduct is a matter of routine at his department. And it worked! I don't know if I'm more shocked that a defense attorney would offer an argument so contemptuous towards the Fourth Amendment, or that a judge would actually be persuaded by an attempt to rationalize police misconduct.
When this all comes crashing down it is going to hurt America for decades. Just as alcohol prohibition did.

Here ia another case where the town fathers are trying to steal a man's business based on trumped up drug charges:
This is the story of David Ruttenberg, the totally law-abiding owner of Rack N' Roll billiards in Manassas, Virginia, who for years now has been targeted in repeated and fruitless attempts to link his business to drug activity. His livelihood is now almost completely destroyed and most of the cops and public officials in Manassas seem to be in on it. Motivated by an apparent desire to build an off-track betting facility on the property, Manassas police and others have spared no expense in this otherwise inexplicable series of bizarre events.

My favorite part is when Ruttenberg tries to explain his plight to a local news reporter at 1:00 in the morning and the Mayor suddenly jumps out of the bushes and tells the reporter not to trust to him.

Balko's research illustrates the ease with which ambiguous allegations of drug activity can be used by politicians as leverage against their enemies. Still, I suspect that the only thing unique about this story is the fact that someone as meticulous as Balko took an interest in it. His work on the Cory Maye case similarly illustrates the improbability of severe police corruption coming to light absent the involvement of a politically savvy blogger from Washington, D.C.

When business owners can be held liable for activities they had no knowledge of, it becomes painfully easy for corrupt officials with ulterior motives to capitalize on malfeasance.

If you were trying to screw over a business owner, how would you do it? Think about how easy it is to frame someone for drugs. Think about it, then ask yourself how often it happens.
That is a pretty good question. My guess? Often enough so that if this kind of behavior was public knowledge it would bring down the justice system.

Public Integrity has pages, and pages, and pages of this stuff. Probably just a few bad apples.

Here is just a bit from one of the articles at Public Integrity:
It is impossible to know for sure how often a specific prosecutor (or a specific defense attorney, judge, police officer, etc.) bends or breaks the rules. In most jurisdictions, at least 95 percent of the cases that pour in from the police never reach a jury, which means any misconduct occurs away from public view. The only trial those defendants receive takes place in the prosecutor's office; the prosecutor becomes the judge and the jury. The prosecutor is the de facto law after an arrest, deciding whether to charge the suspect with committing a crime, what charge to file from a range of possibilities, whether to offer a pre-trial deal, and, if so, the terms of the deal.

Katherine Goldwasser, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis who served as a prosecutor in Chicago before joining academia, suggested that misconduct often occurs out of sight, especially in cases that never go to trial. Those cases by definition do not generate appellate opinions (and thus are for the most part beyond the scope of the Center study). Goldwasser told the Center. "It is not a safe assumption that cases ending with guilty pleas are absent prosecutorial misconduct."
Here is an interesting list of serious cases of prosecutorial misconduct. Men and women sentenced to death or long prison sentences because of the prosecutor's desire to win at all costs. Murder is no object. Scary.

Here is the case of James E. Richardson, Jr.:
In September 1996, a Kanawha [West Virginia- ed.] circuit judge overturned Richardson's conviction based on allegations that state police chemist Fred Zain fabricated evidence and that prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence.
Which sounds a lot like the Duke case. Except in the Duke case all this is coming out before trial.

Cross Posted at Classical Values


Commenter passerby took exception to some of the things I said in The Origins Of Islamic Rage. Here is my reply to his question about the rise of tribalism in the west. I don't actually answer his question (directly), but I do look at what I consider a subset of sociobiology - politicobiology.


As long as we are human we will have the alpha male problem.

If you look at human history - freedom is not much in evidence. No matter how desireable for the individual it is unusual. It takes effort.

Tribalism is the natural state of humankind. It is what you would expect from genetics. The closer the genetic connection, the more trust given to the individual.

A place or a world where Jewish/Christian values predominate is a better world in my opinion. "All men are created equal" is an anti-tribalist statement. However, it is not natural. The Islamics are correct. Their system is more in accord with humans as they exist in a state of nature.

As to the sexual theories etc. You need to look into my work on PTSD. Start with:


PTSD and the Endocannabinoid System

Men with PTSD are more prone to violence than men without. Sexual assault on children is a good way of creating a person with long term PTSD problems (providing the genetics are correct).

If violence against children is endemic, you then have a resevoir of angry males for jihad. i.e. some one has to pay for the torment of the individual. Since we are genetically biased against looking at the evil of our parents it then must be ascribed to some outside source.

When we start getting the connection between biology and politics (monkey politics) we will get better political systems.

When Kissenger said "Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac" he wasn't kidding. That is only one example of the relation between biology and politics.

Sociobiology is more or less accepted. What I am looking at is a subset of that. Politicobiology. Thus, power and control.

My recent piece on drug prohibition It Was Never About The Drugs is another example of NORMAL human behavior. Dividing the ins from the outs.

Or try How To Put An End To Drug Users. Which discusses (in a round about way) how the impulse for genocide is wired into the human system. It discusses how that wiring is activated.

So near to the gods. So close to the devils. Between heaven and hell.

Why? Because, Power and Control gives a reproductive advantage.

Politicobiology explains why there will always be an opposition party. It is the way we are wired.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

"Muslims" Abandoning Islam?

Reader Paul sent me this interesting item on the decline in belief among Muslims in Russia.

This latest research deals a severe blow to plans by Russian Muslim leaders to wrench concessions from the Kremlin. These Muslim leaders are pushing for the creation of a new high-ranking position in the government just for so-called `Muslim Affairs', and they are also trying to have Islamic law officially accepted in those areas of the country where ethnic Muslims dominate.

So-called `ethnic' Muslims --- people traditionally seen as Muslims, such as Tatars, Bashkirs, Chechens, and Ingush --- account for about 15 percent of the total Russian population, or 20 million people. The fact that only 6 percent of the total Russian population, about 9 million people, claimed to be Muslim means that more than half of `ethnic' Muslims have abandoned the Mohammedan cult practiced by their forefathers.

This is also a very good example whereby Muslim leaders deny any freedom of choice to `their' peoeple. They claim as their own anyone born into an ethnic group that is perceived to be `Muslim', and under no circumstance will they let go of these people. According to Muslim leaders: once a Muslim, always a Muslim. Islam is all about violence, coercion and the absence of freedom.

The VTsIOM poll is very encouraging news. True, more and more mosques are opening in Russia, but not many people are attending them. Indeed, many Tatars and Bashkirs have become Orthodox Christian; or simply do not have any religious affiliation. Islam in Russia, however, remains most virulent in the North Caucasus among the Chechens and Inghush, whose inclination toward violence and terrorism is well-known.
This is very encouraging news if true. It may be that our real hope in this war is not the "moderate" muslim but the former muslim.

What we need now is a survey team to go in and find out how this happened. Is it a local phenomenon or can it be replicated?

Clayton Cramer thinks that Islam may have been a proxy for nationalism in those regions. With the Soviets gone no need for nationalism as a resistance movement, thus the decline of Islam. Certainly a testable thesis. If it is true it means that it is of limited application because our current problem is with transnational Islam.

Cross Posted at Classical Values.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Geologist Looks At Global Warming

Commenter A. Jacksonian posted the following in the comments to Not Enough CO2. He has some nice easy to understand charts and graphs at the link below.


One of the great things about being a geologist is being able to actually get that 'long term perspective'. So, when you want a long-term perspective on climate and weather you do NOT go to meteorologists... you go to geologists. Thus, my view on global warming which still stands. Without taking the larger, geological context of things like the speed of plate tectonics, orogeny (mountain building) and the sudden loss of inland seas, no one can make any basis for discriminating between relatively short term variations in a chaotic inter-glacial period that has typically seen fast and steep temperature variations, larger global effects and the effects of mankind. CO2 levels are at a historic LOW and there is no correlation between CO2 and global temperatures except at the very low end. And even *that* does not take into account break-up of the last supercontinent and the loss of inland seas due to the continents moving faster and riding higher on the mantle.

The Earth has even had sudden, intense, glacial periods that ended just as abruptly with NO change in CO2 that was appreciable and the picking up the exact same warm period right after the glacial period.

And let us not forget that Mars is also undergoing a warming spell... so insolation also plays a part in all of this...

But that is what you get when you ask climatologists to speculate on a mere 100 years worth of data and not on 4.2 billion years worth. It is not their field.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

It Was Never About Drugs

Jerry Ford has died. As always when you mention the life of Ford, the question of Nixon comes up. I have lots of beefs with Nixion's career. This is my biggest. Using not just private henchmen, but the power of government to kidnap and injure your political opponents under color of law.

Nixon said to Elvis:

"You know," Nixon said, " those who use drugs are the protesters. You know, the ones who get caught up in dissent and violence. They're the same group of people."

Nixon said something similar to Haldeman on the Nixon tapes with the additional proviso that he thought pot was no worse than the martini he was drinking.

For Nixon, the drug war was never about drugs. It was a scheme to attack his political opponents based on some cultural characteristic.

It has always been thus. Alcohol prohibition was in part an attempt to destroy the Democratic Machine which organized in saloons. Laws against smoking opium were instigated because Chinese smoked opium. White folks, who traditionally drank opium had no such prohibition.

Sadly the pattern hasn't changed much. Blacks, buy, sell, and use drugs in aproximate proportion to their population. About 12%. They make up something like 50 to 60% of the prison population.

I'm with Milton Friedman on this one. This whole stinking pile we call the drug war is totally immoral. It is about persecuting the unfavored, strictly power and control. Sadly we are getting that way with tobacco users as well. What? Forcing people out into the cold to have a smoke isn't persecution? Give me a break.

Let me quote Professor Whitebread form the last link. From a speech he gave in 1995 when tobacco prohibition was just gathering steam. What he said seemed at least moderately fantastic at the time.

And so, yeah, we will continue the War on Drugs for a while until everybody sees its patent bankruptcy. But, let me say that I am not confident that good sense will prevail. Why? Because we love this idea of prohibition. We really do. We love it in this country. And so I will tell you what I predict. You will always know which ones are going out and which ones are coming in. And, can't you see the one coming right over the hill? Well, folks, we are going to have a new prohibition because we love this idea that we can solve difficult medical, economic, and social problems by the simple enactment of a criminal law. We adore this, and of course, you judges work it out, we have solved our problem. Do you have it? Our problem is over with the enactment of the law. You and the cops work it out, but we have solved our problem.

Here comes the new one? What's it going to be? No, it won't be guns, this one starts easy. This one is the Surgeon General has what? --Determined -- not "we want a little more checking it out", not "we need a few more studies", not "reasonable people disagree" -- "The Surgeon General has determined that the smoking of cigarettes will kill you."

Now, all you need, and here is my formula, for a new prohibition every time is what? We need an intractable, difficult, social, economic, or medical problem. But that is not enough. There has to be another thing. It has to divide by class --- by social or economic class, between US and THEM.

And so, here it comes. '

You know the Federal Government has been spending a lot of money since 1968 trying to persuade us not to smoke. And, indeed, the absolute numbers on smoking have declined very little. But, you know who has quit smoking, don't you? In gigantic numbers? The college-educated, that's who. The college-educated, that's who doesn't smoke. Who are they? Tomorrow's what? Movers and kickers, that's who. Tomorrow's movers and kickers don't smoke. Who does smoke? Oh, you know who smokes out of all proportion to their numbers in the society -- it is the people standing in your criminal courtrooms, that's who. Who are they? Tomorrow's moved and kicked, that's who.

And, there it is friends, once it divides between the movers and kickers and the moved and kicked it is all over and it will be all over very shortly.
Cross Posted at Classical Values

Nazis to the Right of Me? I Must Be a Communist

That Relapsed Catholic is hitting my buttons today. The Catholic has excerpted the following from That Fascist, Heinlein:

Indeed, capitalism is the opposite of fascism, which favors government control of the every economic decision. Calling us (liberals and conservatives) 'fascists' simply reveals the Left’s nostaglia for truly evil enemies (like Nazis) and its current reluctance to engage in a battle of ideas. So Bush is a fascist and so is Heinlein…


"I was covering a anti-globalization street demonstration in Prague in 2000 for the Wall Street Journal and noticed that the crowd was chanting loudly in Spanish. I asked a demonstrator why this pan-European crowd was reciting Spanish slogans instead of Czech. 'Don’t you know it?' he asked. 'This is one of the great anti-Fascist chants from the Spanish Civil War.'

"In other words, it was from the 1930s.

"Even the young communists think like old men, living in a glorious past that has long since passed. This is why they still want to talk about McCarthy, Nixon, Vietnam, 'the 1960s,' the minimum wage, the draft, the United Nations…

Their solution for the Iraq war and the Iran A-Bomb? Get France, Britain, Russia and China to agree. In other words, get our World War II allies to join us. Hasn’t the world changed in 60 years? The French and British have given away their empires and forfeited a role in global affairs. They have one aircraft carrier each. Russia is failing state that could not rescue the crew on one of their own submarines. China could play only a bit part in the tsunami relief effort and is actively involved with two members of the axis of evil (Iran and North Korea). Surely India, Japan and Turkey are more important to us now?

"The Left’s one relatively new concern is global warming. Yes, they have been threatening an environmental catastrophe since the late 1950s and climate change since the early 1970s, but it, nonetheless, is among their fresher concerns. Still, it is worth pointing out that worrying about the weather is principally a concern of the aged. The rest of us are too busy hurrying to work."
Since Eric of Classical Values is in Spain I thought he might appriciate this bit of nostalgia.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

'Tis The Season

I was noodling around at Relapsed Catholic and came across a note on Kwanzaa. Specifically Newsbusters says that Cox News is honoring the creator of Kwanzaa. Let us start with the headline of this little holiday confection.

Cox News Honors Kwanzaa Creator, A Rapist and Torturer
It only gets better after that.
It amazes me that this Kwanzaa business has been washed of the real life criminal activity of its creator. The man was a race monger, a violent thug, a rapist, a torturer... just a horrible human being.

Yet never a word of this man's evil is ever uttered when his pseudo holiday is discussed in the MSM.

And the Cox News Service did it again on Christmas in theirs titled Kwanzaa glows even brighter after 40 years.

Kwanzaa turns 40 today. The colorful holiday, invented by California professor Maulana Ron Karenga in 1966, is like a jazz musician who fuses bits and pieces of music into a vibrant mosaic of sound. Kwanzaa, "first fruit" in Swahili, is a fluent, nonreligious holiday that borrows liberally from a patchwork of cultures and traditions.

Karenga originally created the seven-day observance to empower black communities and uplift black culture and identity.
It amazes him. It amuses me. This is the season with something for every one. For instance the secret history of Kwanzaa's founder.
Yes, kindly professor Ron Karenga. What a great guy.

Of course, his name wasn't really Ron Karenga originally. It was Ronald McKinley Everett.

In 1969 the organization called US (as is "us"--blacks--against "them" --whites), a black power militant group Everett founded, frequently clashed in violence with police and even other black power groups. Members of his group even killed two Black Panthers in 1969.

Nice and peaceful, eh?

In 1971 Everett served time in jail for assault. By then Everett had changed his name to Maulana Ron Karenga and began to affect a pseudo African costume and act a native African.

It wasn't mere assault he was convicted of, either. It was sexual assault and torture perpetrated against some of his female followers. The L.A. Times then reported that he placed a hot soldering iron in one woman's mouth and used a vise to crush another's toe.
Well for those of you into that sort of thing it gets even better. This guy sounds like a modern day Mohammed without the grace. Toe squeezing being way too effeminate for Mohammed. Mo being more of an off with their heads kind of guy. Grand sweeping gesture that. The similarities between the stories on Mr. Karenga and Mohammed in the "real" press are that the press avoids the ugly details of what these fellows have been about. You should read it all at Newsbusters. If so inclined.

Relapsed has more on Kwanzaa.

Ann Coulter is scathing with a funny bit of doggerel. H/T Commenter linearthinker

Update: 31 Dec'06 2340z

Ann Coulter blames Kwanzaa on the FBI . H/T Steve Sailer

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Palestinian Civil War Watch - 6

The Palestinians are still at it.

A mother of two was murdered Tuesday evening in front of her children in the city of Ramla, south of Tel Aviv. The woman, a 29-year-old divorcee, was killed by a barrage of gunshots while standing at the entrance to her home.

Large police forces were dispatched to the scene of the incident and began looking for suspects. According to estimates, the murder was carried out as a "honor killing."

The police investigation revealed that the woman was standing at the entrance to her home with her two 4-year-old and 8-year-old children, and was about to leave the house. The babysitter who arrived to look after the children was also present.
Meanwhile, "militants" are targeting internet cafes.
Fundamentalist Islamists in Gaza have begun a campaign of bombing and arson against Internet cafes, pharmacies and pool halls.

A group calling itself the Swords of Islamic Righteousness issued a statement claiming responsibility for some of the attacks, denouncing Western, immoral behavior, such as unveiled women and loud music, a Times of London correspondent reported.

The group said it would continue "shooting rocket-propelled grenades and planting bombs at Internet cafes in Gaza, which are trying to make a whole generation preoccupied with matters other than jihad and worship."

Pharmacies suspected of dispensing smuggled hallucinogens have also been targeted, as have pool halls, which the fundamentalists claim are immoral.
I guess they have watched "The Music Man" one too many times.

Check out Palestinian Civil War Watch - 5 for more on the war on CD shops and mobile phone stores.

Ramzy Baroud comments in Arab News about Palestinian discontents. He blames the Palestinian's problems on outside agitators.
What is taking place in the Occupied Territories, particularly in the Gaza Strip has much less to do with inter-factional rivalries and a lot more with regional and international power plays, in which some foolhardy Palestinians decided to involve themselves for the sake of maintaining personal and factional gains.

To avoid delving into self-pity, I wish to emphasize a point that I have made repeatedly in the past: If it were not for the dysfunctional nature and lack of unity within the myriad of political and societal structures that claims to represent the Palestinian people, no political designs, be it American or Israeli or any other, would've succeeded in duping the Palestinians into such caustic behavior and self-defeatism. (The gunning down of three kids on Dec. 11 and the killing of other innocent people, including children, in addition to the attack on Prime Minister Ismail Haniya on Dec. 14, have indeed crossed all red lines.)
The outside agitator problem is an argument I made in Follow The Money

Previous postings in the series:

Palestinian Civil War Watch - 0
Palestinian Civil War Watch - 1
Palestinian Civil War Watch - 2
Palestinian Civil War Watch - 3
Palestinian Civil War Watch - 4
Palestinian Civil War Watch - 5

Cross Posted at Classical Values


Cale Hahn at Israpundit is going on about American relations with Israel. He thinks America is being a treacherous ally. Especially the ISG (Iraq Study Group - James Baker leading the charge.)

In regards to Israel, the ISG report states, “The US will not be able to achieve its goals in the Middle East unless the US deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict.” Such a statement makes one wonder how many divisions Israel has operating in Iraq and Arab countries.

It is, in point of act, Washington ’s tacit acknowledgement to the Islamic world it is prepared to use its influence to once again force Israel into further concessions and territorial withdrawals.

Only America, as Israel ’s historic friend and ally, possesses the influence over Israel to force her into additional territorial withdrawals. That Washington has been the catalyst for the majority of “peace initiatives” in the Middle East is a matter of record. The pattern has been the same for Madrid, Oslo, Hebron, Wye, Sharm el-Sheikh, Camp David, Taba, the Road Map and the Lebanon and Gaza withdrawals:

Islamic leaders, aware of US influence over Israel , tell the US the key to securing its interests in the Mideast is “resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”. Washington, in turn, persuades, bribes or strong-arms Israel into accepting terms and withdrawing from territory under the guise of a “peace process”. Muslims then violate the agreements and the territory becomes safe havens from which they launch attacks against Israeli population centers. This pattern is unchanged, and is a blueprint for the ISG’s strategy of redeeming American influence in the Middle East.
He contines in the same vein:
Immediately following the publishing of the ISG report, several disturbing events occurred:
-James Baker proposed a US-organized conference dubbed Madrid-2, promoted as a forum to discuss Iraq but will actually focus on Islamic demands for a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Judea , Jerusalem , Samaria and the Golan. Iran and Syria will be invited to the conference. Israel will not.

-Newly appointed US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates characterized Iran’s nuclear weapons program as motivated by deterrence against a nuclear armed Israel. Never mind that Ahmadinejad and Iran ’s rulers have stated their intent to “wipe Israel off the map” in the very near future.

-Without consulting the Israeli government, Washington officially disclosed Israel ’s possession of nuclear weapons.

- Newly empowered Congressional Democrats are secretly meeting with Hamas.
The sheer brazenness of the American treachery is staggering.
I beg to differ. I think the Israeli treachery is staggering. Here is why:

The treachery was on Israel's part for not taking the Bekaa Valley last summer despite numerous hints in public (many more and more direct in private I’m sure).

Syria said it would have to get involved if Israel took the Bekaa. Iran said it would come in too.

Sure it would have hurt Israel much more than the war did because of unpreparedness (a lot more dead soldiers). However, it would have rid Israel of two very big problems at little extra political cost to America or Israel (America would have handled Iran, being closer to the scene of action).

Now America is saying screw you.

I think a new government could fix this.

Tell me again why there aren’t mass demonstrations against the government? Cell phones stopped working, the internet has been shut down, no one can find the time to organize, Israelis can’t find the streets, or they think the current government is not bad enough to be worth political action?

Bush wants the double crosser Olmert out of power and Likud back in power. Here is what I think happened: The deal was - Bush gets Israel time, Israel moves on Bekaa in an effort to goad Syria and Iran into the war. Olmert does the preliminary moves on Bekaa - recon, special forces, small unit action (company size), helicopter insertions, etc. to make it look like something was going to happen. However, no movement in strength ever happened. Olmert was just using the war to punish Hizballah. So finally Bush shut the war down. Olmert is too political (what if the Israeli people really find out how totally unprepared the Army is?) and too tactial. Swatting flies instead of burying the manure.

If Israelis care about Israel, take to the streets in Israel. As an American all I can do is sit on the sidelines and cheer (or boo as the case requires and my understanding allows).

Olmert is Israel's Jonah. Time to throw him overboard.

Israpundit has another bit on American "treachery".

Cross Posted at Classical Values

The Pope On Science and Technology

There is a discussion going on at the Netscape Blog about the Pope's comments on science and technology. The Pope said worship God not technology.

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) -- Pope Benedict said in his Christmas message on Monday that mankind, which has reached other planets and worships technology, cannot live without God or turn its back on the hungry.
Technology and science have helped us live longer, eat better, housed, clothed, and entertained us as well.

What has the Maker done for us lately? Well, given us the brains and culture to make all the technology stuff happen.

There is a very important place for the spiritual (the practice of science and especially technology is very spiritual - honesty and truth are required every step of the way - you can't lie to Mother Nature). However, the Pope ought to embrace (co-opt) science and technology. His fight against it is not only in vain. It is stupid.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Monday, December 25, 2006

Not Enough CO2

Atmospheric CO2 is very low by geological standards. Lack of sufficient CO2 in the atmosphere stunts plant growth.

We need to get together with Russia, China, oil producers, coal producers, and in fact the rest of the world to see what we can do to get more CO2 in the atmosphere.

Anon has left a couple of good links in the comments:

CO2 Science
CO2 in Geologic Time

Anon has a few more links of interest:

CO2 geologic time with error bands.
Debunking the hockey stick.
Hockey stick hysteria or why low pass filters can eliminate useful data.

Don't look now but Congress is getting in on the act with an act of Congress once the Democrats are in.

Cross Posted at Classical Values.

A Sorry People

Commenter Gabriel in a response to my post Middle East Politics had this to say:

Thanks Simon. This is decent for Friedman....

Had heard this quote before:
“It gnaws at the people in the Middle East that such a small country as Israel, with only about seven million inhabitants, can defeat the Arab nation with its 350 million. That hurts our collective ego. The Palestinian problem is in the genes of every Arab. The West’s problem is that it does not understand this.”

I dunno. I think we very well understand that Arabs suffer from incredible penis-envy, I just don't think the Arabs understand it at a conscious level. Until they understand it, we have to treat their sensitive egos with kid gloves. Or am I way off?
To which I replied:


I put a up post on that point: Fighting For Self Esteem.

You make this point:

Until they understand it, we have to treat their sensitive egos with kid gloves. Or am I way off?

You are way off. Your statement previous to the above is closer to the mark:

I think we very well understand that Arabs suffer from incredible penis-envy, I just don't think the Arabs understand it at a conscious level.

I think we have to pound it into their sorry heads and asses.

To the effect: You are a sorry, small dicked, uncivilized people.

Once they have been totally and publically humiliated they will either change or disappear.

Carolyn Glick says that the job will have to be done by freelancers.

Cross Posted at Classical Values.

Winter Safety

With winter fast coming on it might be a good idea to look at Winter Survival in the Wilderness.

There really is too much important information to quote. So go read the whole thing.

Cross Posted at Classical Values.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself

First I'm no man of wealth, but I do have a fair amount of taste. Especially for fine women, fine wine, and fine cigars.

Now that the Devil is out of the way. Merry Christmas to all.

My main interests are politics, American and Middle Eastern, science and engineering especially the energy sector, the drug war and the nature of addiction, plus a smattering of economics. And what ever else crosses my mind. I come at the world from a libertarian perspective, although I was a card carrying Libertarian for a number of years. 9/11 cured me. I now consider myself a member of the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. A way long back I was a Communist (Trot - workers of the world revolt) so I have their line down. A study of economics cured me of that.

If you have any questions, feel free.

Cross Posted at Classical Values.

Middle East Politics

You can't play Middle East Politics unless you know the rules. Thomas Friedman lays them down for reporters and other interested parties.

Rule 1: What people tell you in private in the Middle East is irrelevant. All that matters is what they will defend in public in their own language. Anything said to you in English, in private, doesn’t count. In Washington, officials lie in public and tell the truth off the record. In the Middle East, officials say what they really believe in public and tell you what you want to hear in private.

Rule 2: Any reporter or U.S. Army officer wanting to serve in Iraq should have to take a test, consisting of one question: “Do you think the shortest distance between two points is a straight line?” If you answer yes, you can’t go to Iraq. You can serve in Japan, South Korea or Germany ­ not Iraq.

Rule 3: If you can’t explain something to Middle Easterners with a conspiracy theory, then don’t try to explain it at all,­ they won’t believe it.

Rule 4: In the Middle East, never take a concession, except out of the mouth of the person doing the conceding. If I had a dollar for every time someone agreed to recognize Israel on behalf of Yasser Arafat, I could paper my walls.

Rule 5: Never lead your story out of Lebanon, Gaza or Iraq with a cease-fire; it will always be over before the next morning’s paper.

Rule 6: In the Middle East, the extremists go all the way, and the moderates tend to just go away.

Rule 7: The most oft-used expression by moderate Arab politicians is: “We were just about to stand up to the bad guys when you stupid Americans did that stupid thing. Had you stupid Americans not done that stupid thing, we would have stood up, but now it’s too late. It’s all your fault for being so stupid.”

Rule 8: Civil wars in the Arab world are rarely about ideas ­ like liberalism vs. communism. They are about which tribe gets to rule. So, yes, Iraq is having a civil war. But there is no Abe Lincoln in this war. It’s the South vs. the South.

Rule 9: In Middle East tribal politics there is rarely a happy medium. When one side is weak, it will tell you, “I’m weak, how can I compromise?” And when it’s strong, it will tell you, “I’m strong, why should I compromise?”

Rule 10: Middle East civil wars end in one of three ways: a) like the U.S. civil war, with one side vanquishing the other; b) like the Cyprus civil war, with a hard partition and a wall dividing the parties; or c) like the Lebanon civil war, with a soft partition under an iron fist (Syria) that keeps everyone in line. Saddam Hussein used to be the iron fist in Iraq. Now it is America. If America doesn’t want to play that role, Iraq’s civil war will end with A or B.

Rule 11: The most underestimated emotion in Arab politics is humiliation. The Israeli-Arab conflict, for instance, is not just about borders. Israel’s mere existence is a daily humiliation to Muslims, who can’t understand how, if they have the superior religion, Israel can be so powerful. Al Jazeera’s editor, Ahmed Sheikh, said it best when he recently told the Swiss weekly Die Weltwoche: “It gnaws at the people in the Middle East that such a small country as Israel, with only about seven million inhabitants, can defeat the Arab nation with its 350 million. That hurts our collective ego. The Palestinian problem is in the genes of every Arab. The West’s problem is that it does not understand this.”

Rule 12: The Israelis will always win, and the Palestinians will always make sure they never enjoy it. Everything else is just commentary.

Rule 13: America’s first priority is democracy, but the Arabs’ first priority is “justice.” The warring Arab tribes are all wounded souls, who really have been hurt by colonial powers, by Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, by Arab kings and dictators, and, most of all, by each other. For Iraq’s long-abused Shiite majority, democracy is first and foremost a vehicle to get justice. Ditto the Kurds. For the minority Sunnis, democracy in Iraq is a vehicle of injustice. For Americans, democracy is about protecting minority rights. For Arabs, democracy is about consolidating majority rights and getting justice.

Rule 14: The Lebanese historian Kamal Salibi had it right: “Great powers should never get involved in the politics of small tribes.”

Rule 15: Whether it is Arab-Israeli peace or democracy in Iraq, you can’t want it more than they do.
Which pretty much covers it.

Olmert Strengthens Fatah

Israeli Prime Minister Olmert is giving the Palestinian Authority $100 million dollars. The question is why?

Israel will turn over $100 million in tax revenue that it has collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority but held up since Hamas came to power earlier this year, Israeli officials said after a surprise meeting in Jerusalem Saturday night between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
The answer is pretty simple. If you want a civil war to be as destructive as possible, you see that both sides are about equally armed. Cash is good because you can buy allies. This is a policy with a very long tradition in all politics everywhere. When the British played a similar game it was called "Balance of Power".
Abbas adviser Nabil Abu Rudeina was quoted after the meeting as saying it was the first of what will be a series of meetings between the two men. He said the meeting was "positive" and that there was agreement on a number of issues. According to a statement the Prime Minister's Office put out after the meeting, the money will not go the Hamas-led Palestinian government. Releasing the money was one of the steps Israel would take, the statement said, to ease the humanitarian situation in the PA.
Humanitarian? I believe that statement is for the rubes. I suppose if you are planning to cut a man's throat it doesn't hurt to tell the world it is a medical proceedure.

It looks like Fatah is getting some manpower as well as cash.
PA officials claimed that the meeting took place after Israel accepted some of Abbas's demands, including the deployment of the Jordan-based Badr Brigade - which belongs to the PLO's Palestine Liberation Army - in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as the release of frozen Palestinian tax and tariff revenue.

A previous look at the Pali Civil War and Olmert's plan.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

What IS Going On In Saudi Arabia?

A little while back I posted a piece on the goings on in the Saudi Royal family. Now the Captain's Quarters presents a different view.

At the heart of the conflict, though, is policy. The al-Faisals have favored dialogue with Iran, and the bin Sultans oppose any dealings with Teheran. Bandar kept coming to DC primarily to counteract Turki's advice to the Bush administration, and relied on his long-time personal relationships with Dick Cheney and Stephen Hadley. While Turki spoke publicly about the need to engage Iran in 'all things", Bandar furiously tried to prevent that advice from gaining a toehold among American national-security decision-makers. The nadir of this chaotic Saudi policy came when Cheney visited Riyadh and Turki pointedly did not receive an invitation to attend. When Bandar resumed his contacts after the trip, Turki quit and returned home.

Given Turki's reported contacts with jihadis, it's probably for the best. In the meantime, the Saudis have apparently chosen a non-royal to replace Turki -- which means Bandar will probably continue his "unofficial" diplomacy for the foreseeable future.
I'm really confused now. In my original piece Stephen Schwartz said Bandar was on the side of the bad guys:
But King Abdullah and the overwhelming Saudi majority, who want to live in a normal country, are opposed by the Wahhabi-line faction in the royal family. The pro-Wahhabi clique is led by three individuals: Prince Sultan Ibn Abd al-Aziz, minister of defense; Prince Bandar, predecessor of Turki as ambassador to Washington; and Sultan's brother, Prince Nayef. Nayef is notorious for having been the first prominent figure in the Muslim world to try to blame the atrocities of September 11, 2001 on Israel. He is deeply feared both inside and outside Saudi Arabia for his extremism.
So which is it?

I will be adding to this piece once I get some credible information. Readers - if you have any information or links, post a comment or send an e-mail. The previous piece I posted did say something about conflicting reports.

This report from the New York Sun conforms to Schwart's view.
The religious fanatic wing of the family, backed by the Wahhabi preachers, is calling for a new jihad in Iraq.

The Faisal brothers — the foreign minister, Saud, and the Washington ambassador, Turki — want to shore up their home base, which represents the pro-Western, liberal wing of the family. The former Saudi ambassador to America, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, is mounting his own campaign to dominate King Abdullah's foreign policy and undermine the Faisal clan.
Here is another report confirming the position of Turki and his brothers, sort of.
The al-Faisal brothers, in contrast, have consistently urged dialogue with Tehran and are wary of joint U.S.-Saudi efforts against Iran and its surrogates. Turki often urged the United States to deal with its enemies. In one of his final public speeches, at the Philadelphia World Affairs Council last month, Turki said: "We speak directly with Iran on all issues. We find that talking with them is better than not talking with them."

Turki's frequent public events -- in which he was frank about America's poor image abroad and urged progress on the deadlocked Arab-Israeli peace process as the key to defusing broader regional tensions -- generated an unusual amount of attention in the Saudi media and made him a popular figure back home.

Saudi experts say differences within the royal family, like virtually everything having to do with the House of Saud, are heavily nuanced. "On Iran policy, they all make the same diagnosis but have a different prescription for what to do about it," said David E. Long, a former U.S. diplomat and the author of five books on Saudi Arabia.

Palestinian Civil War Watch - 5

The hits just keep on coming.

RAFAH, Gaza, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- A senior Palestinian security official was in critical condition Saturday after being shot by gunmen in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, officials said. His bodyguard and a 9-year-old girl were also wounded, officials said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Saturday's drive-by shooting of Col. Hassan Jarbouh, 33, YNet News reported.

Security officials allied with moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed the attack on the Islamic militant group, Hamas.

Bodyguard Ahmed Mansour and 9-year-old Amal Jaber, a bystander, suffered moderate wounds, officials said.

Earlier, Palestinians reported gunfire near Abbas' office in Gaza City, YNet News said.
That is not all. It appears that Palestinians are not only killing each other (or trying to), but also burning down Gaza.
The anarchy in the Gaza Strip, which has focused on the political struggle between Fatah and Hamas up until now, has taken on a new, disturbing form.

The Palestinian Authority said that a new group, which is most likely inspired by al-Qaeda, has begun acting out against 'secular' targets that supposedly offend Islam.

Anonymous persons ignited a CD shop in Khan Younis Saturday night, causing tens of thousands of dollar worth of damage.

Activists of the group, called "The Sword of Islam" went to the trouble of warning the store's owner Nidal Abdin before blowing up his shop.

The activists told him that they intended to blow the store up if he continued to sell CD's and cosmetics that "offend morals and the Muslim religion."

The PA believes that this act is also the doing of the new group that has begun activity in the past few months on the Gaza Strip.

A few weeks ago another businesses selling CD's and mobile phones was set on fire in Khan Younis. In another incident that occurred in Gaza City, anonymous persons set fire to an internet café, claiming that it is used as a meeting place for "forbidden and immoral relations."

The Sword of Islam organization published a few announcements in which it declared that its men will continue to harm anyone who causes damage to the Islamic identity and the Islamic tradition of the residents of the Strip. So far, the organization is holding up to its threats.

Sources in the Palestinian Authority fear that these attacks on businesses on religious background will only worsen, following the deteriorating political and security anarchy on the Strip, and the void created by security forces, since part of them are now on strike.
The Taliban have arrived in the Palestinian territories. This will lead, over time, to ethnic self cleansing.

These fellers do know their enemy. Western culture and civilization. It is only a matter of time before they go after satellite dishes. They are already doing cell phones. Brilliant. Just brilliant.

I'm still of the opinion that, despite the cost to the Israelis, the Gaza evacuation, engineered by Sharon, was one of the most brilliant of the moves in Israel's war against the Palestinians. The Israeli retreat has dislocated the Palestinian war efforts. As well planned retreats often do.

The Arab American News gets it:
Israel's soldiers are not going to march into Gaza and truck all the inhabitants away. The strategy is simply to make the place into a garbage dump picked over by destitute people. The current ceasefire will do nothing to relieve the siege imposed physically, financially, commercially by Israel, the U.S. and the E.U. Israel and its accomplices are sentencing Gaza's occupants to a living death in situ, with actual death meted out each day to "terrorists" and those unfortunate enough to be in the line of fire, like the family in Beit Hanoun or the school teacher by the minibus filled with children (a near miss).
The fratricide going on in Gaza and the West Bank territories has caused a significant weakening of international sympathy for the Palestinians. The Palestinians are doing their best to make themselves look bad in the eyes of the international public.

The terrorists are terrorizing each other.

The Israeli withdrawal left a power vacuum. Palestinian factions are fighting it out to determine who will wind up on top. There will come a time when the Israelis are asked to re-occupy Gaza - there have been lone voices calling for this already. In fact when the Gaza pull out was announced the Palestinian government said that the Israelis couldn't do that without a peace treaty. The Israelis ignored them.

Free Will

Reader JOgershok, who is currently in Iraq, wrote this interesting piece on free will based on an e-mail exchange we had. He has kindly allowed me to post it. You can read more of his writing at The Truth, It Just came Out. He writes about his experiences in Iraq and other stuff.


I think the Arabic word Inshallah is the evidence of a culturally based but religious induced "learned helplessness." Do you remember the concept from psychology? The dogs in Seligman's experiments would not get away of the shock after being exposed to it long enough without an escape. Even though they were shown how to get away from it they just let it happen. In Islam, "if Allah allows" is the shibboleth of being a Muslim (he who submits to the will of Allah). The true Muslim has no actual power to escape God's will/wrath because he has relinquished his will to that of Allah's to be a good Muslim.

Let us be clear that submission to the will of God is not a new religious concept; consider the list of the Ten Commandments given to Moses:

Exodus 20: 1-11

1 And God spake all these words, saying,

2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

This is not the first example of submitting to God's will from the first five books of the Bible; actually the account of the 10 Commandments is in the second book, Exodus. The concept is first seen in Genesis 3: 1- 24, with Adam not submitting to the will/command of God (Koran 2:34-38). Years later, we see the example of the flood, which is the result of man's failure to submit to God. Likewise, there is the example from the tower of Babel; they did not follow God's command to "fill the earth" (Gen. 9-1). Then we see Abraham's willingness to leave Ur (Gen. 12:1-4) and years later to sacrifice his son Isaac (Gen. 22:1 - 18), an act which is the pinnacle of that submission to God's will. (Christianity has a different take on this event.) In fact, the Jews assign a special name for this place, Yahweh yireh, The Lord Will Provide, (Gen. 22:14.)

From the Koran, Abraham's example is found in the second Chapter. Notice these passages from that second chapter are about being a Muslim:

2.112: Yes! whoever submits himself entirely to Allah and he is the doer of good (to others) he has his reward from his Lord, and there is no fear for him nor shall he grieve...

2.124: And when his Lord tried Ibrahim with certain words, he fulfilled them. He said: Surely I will make you an Imam of men. Ibrahim said: And of my offspring? My covenant does not include the unjust, said He...

2.128: Our Lord! and make us both submissive to Thee and (raise) from our offspring a nation submitting to Thee, and show us our ways of devotion and turn to us (mercifully), surely Thou art the Oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful....

2.131: When his Lord said to him, Be a Muslim, he said: I submit myself to the Lord of the worlds. 132: And the same did Ibrahim enjoin on his sons and (so did) Yaqoub. O my sons! surely Allah has chosen for you (this) faith, therefore die not unless you are Muslims. 133: Nay! were you witnesses when death visited Yaqoub, when he said to his sons: What will you serve after me? They said: We will serve your God and the God of your fathers, Ibrahim and Ismail and Ishaq, one God only, and to Him do we submit. 134: This is a people that have passed away; they shall have what they earned and you shall have what you earn, and you shall not be called upon to answer for what they did. 135: And they say: Be Jews or Christians, you will be on the right course. Say: Nay! (we follow) the religion of Ibrahim, the Hanif, and he was not one of the polytheists. 136: Say: We believe in Allah and (in) that which had been revealed to us, and (in) that which was revealed to Ibrahim and Ismail and Ishaq and Yaqoub and the tribes, and (in) that which was given to Musa and Isa, and (in) that which was given to the prophets from their Lord, we do not make any distinction between any of them, and to Him do we submit.

Read in context, these passages conflict with the Biblical account and demonstrates the rift between Jews, Christians, and Muslims. As you read the Koran, the non Muslims are constantly portrayed as not human.

Notice that Ishmael (Ismail) is mentioned 12 times in the Koran, Isaac (Ishaq) is mentioned 17 times, and Abraham has a chapter (14) named for him and "the Imam of Men" - the perfect example in everything - is mentioned 70 times in the entire text of the Koran. By the way, Jesus (Isa son of Maruim) is mentioned 27 times.

Submission is one of the underlying concepts of all three religions. The bottom line for me is that the religion of Islam it is fatalistic in its belief system. Free will is not from God in Islam but is the evidence of Satan's influence. That is why we are the "Great Satan." We have and exercise our free will.

One of the Ugandans here with me in Iraq said, "The Muslims say this is the Promised Land; look around, I don't think God really loves them." It is hard to disagree with that here in Iraq.

Joseph J. Ogershok, Jr.
Global Operational Resources Group

Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway - John Wayne

Friday, December 22, 2006

I Agree With Olmert

Now there is a real surprise.

I believe Olmert's policy of not responding to the Palestinian Arab rocket attacks on Israel at this time is a good policy. Why would I take such a position? The answer is obvious if you have been watching the Palestinian Civil War unfold.

Officials in the Prime Minister's Office said that the terrorists were trying to provoke an Israeli response in order to unify the warring Hamas and Fatah factions against the IDF.
I think a Palestinian Civil War is in Israel's interest. The civil war needs to be well established before Israel acts. Another few weeks or a month should do it.

However, some of the other reasons given are nonsense.
The officials further said that a response would give more support on the street to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and weaken Abbas.
What is needed is the weakening of all sides. A civil war will do that.

Update: 22 Dec'06 1825z

More fighting between Palestinian factions.
A brief but ferocious gunbattle between Hamas and Fatah militants broke out in Gaza City early Friday, underscoring the fragility of a two-day-old truce between the rival factions.

The street battle, which encompassed the house of Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar of Hamas and the Gaza residence of President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, died down after about 20 minutes as Muslim clerics and other mediators worked to restore the cease-fire. Abbas was not in Gaza at the time.
Haaretz has a report on West Bank violence.
Gunmen loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah opened fire on Hamas members in the West Bank city of Nablus on Friday, wounding at least nine people, hospital officials and witnesses said.

At least one of the wounded was said to be in very serious condition.

They said the gunmen opened fire as about 200 Hamas activists and armed men were preparing for a rally in the city of Nablus. There was no immediate comment from Fatah.
Israel Matzav has a different view on what Olmert should do.

Here are some of my recent posts on the Palestinian Civil War:

Palestinian Civil War Watch - 0
Palestinian Civil War Watch - 1
Palestinian Civil War Watch - 2
Palestinian Civil War Watch - 3
Palestinian Civil War Watch - 4

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Cutting Off The Roots

Israpundit reports that American military commanders have requested another carrier for the Persian Gulf. They cite a Debka File Report.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that this request, revealed by a senior Pentagon official, is the first time in four years that an American general has asked for a special force as a deterrent for Syria and Iran.

Our Washington sources interpret the publication of Gen. Abizaid’s request during the visit to Iraq of the new defense secretary Robert Gates’ and head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace as indicating that the Bush administration is heading for a major operation against the two key threats to Iraq’s stability: the Sunni insurgents supported by Syria and the Shiite militias, which receive arms, intelligence and funding from Tehran.

In its latest quarterly report, the defense department accused Iran and Syria of undermining the Iraqi government by providing both active and passive support to anti-government and anti-coalition forces.

The application to deploy a third carrier in the Gulf in late March 2007 is a pointer to the projected timeline of this operation. It will confront Tehran and Damascus with the option of direct intervention to rescue their Iraqi allies, or standing aside. President George W. Bush is officially reported to have not yet decided on the coming steps in Iraq. However the central command’s application for another carrier suggests that the decision is more or less final.
Here is the status of the US Navy. There was at the same base url a more complete status report which can no longer be found. Good. Better operational security even if it means more guessing for us armchair admirals.

Israpundit had a previous article discussing the up coming confrontation with Iran.
We know that it is in the interest of both the US and Israel that Hamas and Hezbollah be destroyed. So why the ceasefires in Lebanon and Gaza. Ultimately Hezbollah and Gaza will be attacked by Israel and utterly destroyed. The causus belli will either be rocket attacks or arms build up. Steinitz suggests the PA will also be destroyed.

The US demanded a ceasefire in Gaza knowing it would be a short term thing. They just wanted an up tick in atmosphere for Bush’s trip to Amman and Cheney’s trip to Saudi Arabia. There is no peace process now, only a war process.

The Baker report fall on its face. The US is talking of increasing its troops in Iraq by 30,000. Giuliani and McCain, both presidential candidates, are looking for victory. The cut and run Democrats have gone silent. Could it be that the deployment of another 30,000 troops is really in preparation for an upcoming attack on Iran.
I'd have to agree with that. Plus, I have never thought the actual troops in Iraq were overstretched by the insurgents. Deployments are too frequent to be sure, however there is no overstretch on the battle field.

If I was going to take on Iran, I would not go after the whole country. I would take the southern oil fields which is a Sunni dominated region and then go on the defensive, while special forces did their best to create and support unrest in the rest of Iran. Evidently Iran fears such unrest.
The Amir Kabir Newsletter reports: Iranian students who in demonstrations last week showed their wrath against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, now in fear of retributions from his supporters, have gone into hiding. The student who held up the sign “Fascist president, you don’t belong at the polytechnic” was photographed and at least 3 of the other students who burned Ahmadinejad’s photo and held it upside down, are all in hiding. Basiji forces1 and Ansar’eh Hezbollah are now hunting them down.

Last week as Ahmadinejad was being booed and jeered inside the auditorium of Amir Kabir polytechnic university, there were severe clashes between student activists and Basijis, outside, on the university campus. A shoe was hurled at Ahmadinejad by a student whose nose was then broken by Ahmadinejad’s bodyguard.
Regime Change Iran has some pictures of the unrest and its aftermath.

Debka is not the only news source reporting a naval build up in the Persian Gulf. Reuters also has the story.
WASHINGTON, Dec 18 (Reuters) - The Pentagon is planning a major buildup of U.S. naval forces in and around the Gulf as a warning to Iran, CBS News reported on Monday.

A senior Defense Department official told Reuters the report was "premature" and appeared to be drawing "conclusions from assumptions." The official did not know of plans for a major change in naval deployment.

Another Defense Department official called the report "speculative" and a Pentagon spokeswomen declined to comment.

Citing unidentified military officers, CBS said the plan called for the deployment of a second U.S. aircraft carrier to join the one already in the region.
"Premature", not necessisarily wrong.

Bush really has to get all this in hand well before a new administration comes into power. It is pretty well known what the trouble is in Iraq and who is financing it. Cut the roots and the tree whithers.Pull leaves and branches off the tree and they regenerate. In strategic parlance it is called (what else?) roots strategy.
In an interview with Al-Arabiya TV, an Iraqi official revealed that the regime in Tehran recently sent another $275 million to Moghtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army in Iraq. According to reports from the website Iran Asraar, Saleh al-Mutlaq, the head of the Iraqi national dialogue front in this interview with Al-Arabiya TV spoke out against Tehran’s continued interference in Iraq and said that Tehran incessantly and extensively helps the Mahdi Militia and that only within the last 2 months another $275 million was delivered to al-Sadr for organizational reconstruction of this terrorist group. Al-Mutlaq also said that Tehran’s regime also continues to sent massive caches of weapons and arms for the Mahdi army.
Today Captain's Quarters is discussing the wiles of Al-Sadr.
With the US talking about sending more troops to Baghdad and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani organizing a coalition to strip Nouri al-Maliki of his position as Prime Minister, Moqtada al-Sadr has apparently blinked yet again. The radical Shi'ite cleric has begun to consider a unilateral cease-fire in the sectarian war that he has masterminded in an attempt to bolster his political viability in Iraqi politics
The Captain discusses how when Al-Sadr is at a disadvantage he lays low. When he thinks circumstances favor him he causes trouble. The way to deal with this without causing trouble for the Iraqi government (Al-Sadr is an important supporter of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki) is to cut off the Al-Sadr's external support.

Palestinian Civil War Watch - 4

There appears to be a stunning lack of faith in Gaza.

GAZA CITY - As a cease-fire took hold in Gaza on Wednesday after more than a week of factional fighting, residents were angry at the Palestinian gunmen and despondent about the future.

Violence can erupt again at any moment, they said, because the enmity between followers of Hamas and those loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas has only become more intense, and no political solution is in sight.

Emotions were so pitched that schools and Gaza City's universities were shuttered, and gunmen guarded Hamas ministries and Abbas' seaside residence and office. Hospitals couldn't place wounded from different factions in the same room for fear of clashes between their relatives.
It appears that the faith in the numerous announced cease fires is limited. Very limited.

Here is something you don't hear very much about:
Nearly 350 Palestinians have been killed in internal fighting in Gaza this year, including family feuds and gun battles between militias, according to Health Ministry officials. But the past week was the bloodiest.

It began with an ambush that killed the three young sons of an Abbas-allied intelligence officer on their way to school. The spot where the children's car was riddled with bullets was still marked by wreaths on the sidewalk on Wednesday.
Update: 21 Dec'06 2354z

Haaretz reports on the problems a civil war spill over will cause the countries of the region.

Update: 22 Dec'06 0021z

The Palestinian Civil War, after a two day break is back on.
A series of heavy gunbattles between Hamas and Fatah militants broke out in Gaza City early Friday, despite a two-day-old truce that had largely ended factional violence in Gaza.

The gunfights erupted near the Hamas-controlled Foreign Ministry and the Gaza residence of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, of Fatah. Abbas was not in Gaza at the time.

The violence came after a Hamas militant, Mahmoud Al-Lali, was kidnapped late Thursday night by armed men, who fired assault rifles in the streets and seriously wounded a bystander.
I guess this will delay the national unity government for a few days.

Decline and Fall

Commenter Karridine alerted me to this interesting piece by Orson Scott Card on the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.

Card's central thesis is that trade made the empire and its people richer and that the empire fell because trade was no longer safe.

Trade breaks down as merchants lose confidence and markets are disrupted by barbarian invaders. When this happens, specialization becomes impossible, local areas must become agriculturally and militarily self-sufficient again, and between disease, famine, war, and emigration, populations crash.
Then he asks the most important question of the day. Can it happen to us?
For a century, America has been the great cushion to absorb the shocks that might have brought down western civilization. In the Great War (WWI), Europe crashed its own population through war and then crashed further through the influenza epidemic. But the American economy provided the means for France and Britain -- but not Germany -- to recover. Arguably, it was the failure to include Germany in the recovery that led to repeated economic crises, and when America finally joined Europe with its own Depression in the 1930s, the stage was set for the next barbarian invasion.
He discusses the German and Japanese barbarians of WW2 and why it was good that America defeated them.

He then goes on to discuss the American "imperial" system.
In the aftermath of WWII, once again America was the economic cushion -- only this time the portion of Germany under western occupation was included in the economic recovery, as was Japan.

The result, over the past sixty years, has been a pax Americana covering much of the world. And the world has prospered fantastically wherever the American military sustained it.

Let me say that again: As with Rome, the American military has been the wall behind which a system of safe trade has allowed an extraordinary degree of specialization and therefore mutually sustained prosperity.

America has not been imperial -- we have not been stripping other countries. On the contrary, those nations that were able to sustain the internal peace necessary for production, and that have joined the economy presided over by America, have all been able to join in the prosperity as equals.

We don't tax them -- quite the opposite. We have taxed ourselves to pay for the military protection that maintained the safety and perception of safety that allowed the European community and Japan to flourish. Their welfare economies are only possible because they did not have to pay for their own defense at anything like the levels we have paid.

People talk about America's enormous defense budget as if it were a menace to the world. But our enormous defense budget has allowed Japan and Europe -- and Taiwan and South Korea -- to thrive without having to invest much of their gross domestic product in defense.
He then goes on to discuss China and Russia and the different path's they have taken. He is not optimistic about either country.

Then he discusses how the American system could fall to the barbarians.
Here's how it happens: America stupidly and immorally withdraws from the War on Terror, withdrawing prematurely from Iraq and leaving it in chaos. Emboldened, either Muslims unite against the West (unlikely) or collapse in a huge war between Shiites and Sunnis (already beginning). It almost doesn't matter, because in the process the oil will stop flowing.

And when the oil stops flowing, Europe and Japan and Taiwan and Singapore and South Korea all crash economically; Europe then has to face the demands of its West-hating Muslim "minority" without money and without the ruthlessness or will to survive that would allow them to counter the threat. The result is accommodation or surrender to Islam. The numbers don't lie -- it is not just possible, it is likely.

America doesn't crash right away, mind you. But we still have a major depression, because we have nowhere to sell our goods. And depending on what our desperate enemies do, it's a matter of time before we crash as well.
He points out what I have and so many others have said over and over. At this time oil is the life blood of civilization. Without it there will be a huge die off.

Card looks at what America might become without world trade and imported oil.
...our own oil production cannot meet the demands of transportation and production at current levels. Rationing will cripple us. We will not be able to maintain our huge fleet of trucks. Air travel will becoming shockingly expensive and airlines will fail or consolidate. We won't even be allowed to drive our cars on long trips because gasoline will be rationed.

We will go back to the rails. Only we won't have the money to rebuild and refurbish the railroad system -- it will only be able to limp along.

It will look, even inside the United States, amazingly like the shrinkage that happened at the time of the fall of Rome.

Then, and only then, will America look -- and be -- vulnerable to any kind of intervention from the south. Economies that are still somewhat primitive will recover faster than economies that are absolutely dependent on specialization.

It takes two generations for the dark ages to reach America. But they will come, if we allow this nightmare to begin. Because once you reach the tipping point, there's no turning back, as the Emperor Justinian discovered.

Our global economic system is a brilliant creation, imperfect of course, but powerful and effective in creating more prosperity for more people than ever in the history of the world. It is a creation of America's military and America's benign government of the world -- so benign they pretend we don't govern it.

Our enemies and most of our "allies" and many of our own citizens are working as hard as possible to bring the whole thing crashing down, though that is not at all what they intend.

They just haven't learned the lessons -- the principles -- of how great economic empires are maintained. They only look at the political dogmas du jour and spout their platitudes. People like me are ridiculed for seeing the big picture and learning the lessons of history.
A similar crash of global trade happened in the aftermath of the European wars of the 20th century. Starting in 1914 it did not fully recovered until 50 years from the end of the last of the European shooting wars.

We many not be so lucky this time.

Fortunately we have an ace in the hole. However, we had better get cracking. This new source of energy will take 5 years to prototype and probably 10 years to roll out. There is no time to waste.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Saudi Counter Revolution?

I was reading the comments at Captain's Quarters and came across this little gem by Stephen Schwartz about Saudi Royal Family Politics. The only politics that counts in Saudi Arabia at this time.

"Funding for the Sunni insurgency (sic) comes from private individuals within Saudi Arabia." This was the first time anybody connected to the U.S. government acknowledged something known throughout the Muslim world. That is, Sunni terrorism in Iraq is not an insurgency, but an invasion; the "foreign fighters" are mainly Saudi, as revealed when their deaths are covered in Saudi media, replete with photographs of the "martyrs."

But this obscure comment was overlooked by most of the MSM, which is also befuddled by the recent sudden departure of Ambassador Turki al-Faisal from his post in the Royal Saudi Embassy in Washington. The MSM and a large part of the American government scratch their heads, barely capable of imagining that the revelation of the Saudi financing of Sunni terrorists in Iraq and the resignation of the kingdom's man in the U.S. would have anything in common.
Actually I don't blame the MSM at all on this one. I was familiar with the two facts and didn't make a connection. However, my understanding of Saudi politics and the various factions does not go very deep. Which is why I depend on guys like Schwartz to connect the dots for me. Which he does.
Yet they are linked. Liberal reformers in the milieu of Saudi King Abdullah point out that Abdullah has called for an end to sectarian fighting in Iraq and has demanded that Shia Muslims no longer be called unbelievers by the Wahhabi clerics that still function, unfortunately, as the official interpreters of Islam in the Saudi kingdom. Abdullah has promised to spend $450 million on an ultra-modern security fence along the Saudi-Iraqi border. Ambassador Turki, it is said, supports Abdullah in these worthy goals.

But King Abdullah and the overwhelming Saudi majority, who want to live in a normal country, are opposed by the Wahhabi-line faction in the royal family. The pro-Wahhabi clique is led by three individuals: Prince Sultan Ibn Abd al-Aziz, minister of defense; Prince Bandar, predecessor of Turki as ambassador to Washington; and Sultan's brother, Prince Nayef. Nayef is notorious for having been the first prominent figure in the Muslim world to try to blame the atrocities of September 11, 2001 on Israel. He is deeply feared both inside and outside Saudi Arabia for his extremism.

Saudi sources indicate that King Abdullah is assembling his forces for a decisive confrontation with the reactionaries. Part of the Wahhabi-line strategy is to depict a U.S. leadership in conflict with King Abdullah, to undermine the monarch's credibility. That is why different versions of a meeting between U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and King Abdullah, late last month, circulate in the MSM and the blogosphere.

According to credible reports, Cheney urged Abdullah to stiffen action against Saudi-Wahhabi involvement in the Iraqi bloodletting. According to unreliable gadflies, King Abdullah commanded Cheney's presence, to demand that the U.S. immediately attack Iran. But the claim that King Abdullah summoned and berated Cheney does not ring true. King Abdullah is too polite, and Cheney does not take such orders, according to those who know both men.

Many leading clerics and intellectuals among Sunni Muslims indicate that King Abdullah has effectively told the Wahhabis that they will no longer receive official subsidies, and must end their violent jihad around the world. The greatest impact of this development may be seen in Iraq, but Wahhabis everywhere have begun to worry about their future. In a totalitarian system like Wahhabism, the weakest links snap first. And the beginning of the end for them may now be visible in the Muslim Balkans.
This is truly amazing news if true. A lot of folks in the first year after 9/11 learned a lot about the Wahhabi version of Islam. We thought something must be done.

The the lack of howling condemnation of Israel in the past summer's Lebanon escapade (until well into the conflict and not very howling) was a big surprise. At the time I thought it was just a Sunni vs. Shia bit. However, it may have been a signal to and a sign of alliance (covert) with Israel of the anti-Wahhabists.

This could be the biggest coup of the war if it comes about.

I'd say that there are realists in Saudi Arabia who know that the oil will not last forever and that a real economy will be required for the people of the kingdom to survive in the future on anything but alms. Which is to say they do not wish their people to wind up like the Palestinians.

Schwartz has more. He discusses how the Balkan muslims may make that area a Wahhabi free zone.
In October 2006, imam Dzemo Redzematovic, leader of the Slavic Muslim minority in newly-independent Montenegro denounced the Wahhabis for "introducing a new approach to Islamic rules [that] is unnecessary and negative because it creates a rift among the believers" and "claims some exclusive right to interpret Islamic rules."
This sounds almost like the Protestants vs. the Catholics. Except that Islam has been fragmented and adapted to local customs since the death of Mohammed. What the Wahhabis haver attempted with Saudi oil money is similar to the Pope trying to assert control over all Christianity.

Professor Resid Hafizovic of the Faculty of Islamic Studies of the University of Sarajevo is not happy with the Wahhabis, not happy at all.
Hafizovic identified the Wahhabi trail of blood traced through the past decade "Recognizing it as a continuation of the inferno in Iraq, Chechnya, Afghanistan, and Palestine, the most powerful civil and religious authorities... should immediately take responsibility for preventing the hell Wahhabis are constructing in this country."
The Palestinian Civil War may be the loudest advertisement against jihad the west could make. You will wind up on welfare, fighting for scraps.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Lessons of WW2

Gary Brecher in a piece titled Why I Hate WW II, explains the real war winning grand strategy of WW2.

... here's the real lesson of the war: military superiority in the narrow sense isn't nearly as important as economic strength and propaganda working in tandem.
So let me see if I can apply that lesson to the current struggle.

America has the strongest military in the world. Check.

America is probably the strongest single economic power on the planet. Just as was true in WW2. OK, we have that covered.

So how are we coming in the propaganda wars? The answer of course is "what propaganda war?" The only thing saving us is the ineptness of our enemies. Head chopping, throat slitting, and blowing up civilians at market are not very attractive. Unless you are a head chopper, a throat slitter, or hate shoppers. I'd say that demographic was fairly limited.

What is to be done? You tell me. Don't tell our government though. It would be a waste of time. They aren't listening.

Update: 21 Dec'06 0245z

Publius Pundit thinks democracy is the answer to the information gap. Based on his thesis I think the example of the Palestinians is instructive. Publius thinks that the fact that their choices have consequences is a good thing. A learning experience. I agree.

Palestinian Civil War Watch - 3

The Palestinians are back to fighting the civil war. Note that in a previous post I predicted the truce would last no more that 12 hours. We actually got 2.

At least two Palestinian were killed and seven other people were wounded after fighting broke out just two hours after the implementation of a cease-fire between Hamas and Fatah on Tuesday night.

It was unknown whether the deceased belonged to Hamas or Fatah.
No doubt the details will be out by the end of the day.

We have more details:
Two people were killed and six others wounded early Wednesday in battles between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza City, just hours after the feuding factions agreed to hold fire for the second time this week.

The two slain men were identified as members of the Palestinian National Security Forces, allied with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction. They were killed when an anti-tank missile was fired at a police position in the city.

Hamas and Fatah security forces late Tuesday began withdrawing from parts of Gaza City at 11 P.M., security sources and witnesses said, after a week of rampant violence left 14 dead and dozens wounded.
It looks like the truce only lasted minutes. Time enough to check your weapon and reload if necessary. I was going to go out on a limb and say the truce could be over in an hour. What an optimist I was to expect 12 hours of relative calm.
Gaza residents reported gunfire between rival fighters minutes after the truce, which was brokered by Egyptian mediators, went into effect.

A previous truce between the ruling Hamas faction and once-dominant Fatah, signed Sunday, broke down within 24 hours.

"We bless and support this agreement," Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah during his confirmation of the second truce on Tuesday. "We hope all will abide by this agreement."

Hamas and Fatah security chiefs earlier appeared side by side in Gaza City to declare that Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas had agreed to pull back their gunmen.

The two sides also agreed to form a joint operations room with the Fatah-led security forces to respond quickly to any outbreaks of violence, a PA official said.
Like that is going to work.

The civil war will go on for decades. Arabs hold grudges for a very long time. Catholics and Protestants are on better terms than Sunni and Shia. BTW Fatah is backed by Sunni Saudi Arabia (and others), Hamas is backed by Shia Iran (and others). America is backing Fatah. Europe is hedging its bets. The Israelis back Fatah, but actually prefer to keep their distance. Not to mention closely guarding the border to Gaza, keeping the fight inside the cage.

Update: 20 Dec'06 1453z

Jordan worries that the fighting will get out of the cage and continue where ever Palestinians live. Places like Jordan and Lebanon for instance.
AMMAN [MENL] -- Jordan has been concerned that the Fatah-Hamas militia war could spread throughout the Middle East.

Government sources said the Hashemite kingdom has been preparing for the prospect that the war in the Gaza Strip would affect countries with large Palestinian populations. Seventy percent of Jordan's population is Palestinian.

"The situation in the Palestinian refugee camps is very tense," a source said. "They, too, have large cadres of Hamas and Fatah people."

The sources said Jordan has relayed messages to both Israel and the Palestinian Authority regarding the danger of the Fatah-Hamas militia war. They said the kingdom has bolstered security around the 11 refugee camps and near the Jordan River.