Friday, August 19, 2005

Yazoo Clay

The ground here keeps moving, like there is some great prehistoric beast underneath the ground shifting position on a decades long time scale.

Monday, August 15, 2005


Even if it is true that there were too many false positives on the Able Danger list it seems like this story is not getting the attention it deserves. We have reorganized our intelligence services to reduce the autonomy of the one agency in the government that appears to have had a clue, outlawed the technology that produced the clue and gave a pass to the people that decided the clue should be ignored. And yet the story seems to be going away already. After the breathless reception given to the CIA's quoting a 2 year old TV interview as an answer to HIS request for more information the speed with which this story is going away is truly perplexing.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


The Scum of the earth through their bodily wastes at our soldiers and we are worrying about the music being too loud. The 'men' held in Guantanimo are there for their membership in an organization that aims at killing American women and children, establish Sharia by force and uses whatever prisoners it can take as props in their recruitment videos--you know, the ones where they make someone beg before they carve off their head singing Allah Akbar? And we are worrying about crossing our legs in front of them. Have you heard a word of sympathy or respect from our intellectuals for the guards that are doing the horrible job of guarding and dealing with these monsters?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

power hungry Europeans

The big problem we have in dealing with propaganda wars with the Europeans is a publicly available and plausible analysis of their motives. If the Europeans are mad at us it must be our fault because, as we all know, those who want multilateral institutions are good seeking the betterment of all mankind while those who defend the right of nation states to determine their own affairs and, particularly, to fight wars, are on the side of selfish aggrandizement.

First of all, we should make clear that power is a good that nations and peoples pursue for its own sake. The European powers know that the only means of competing with us at their disposal is through multilateral institutions. This doesn't make their motives bad--power can be sought for good and bad reasons, but it is always sought--but there is no reason it should not entitle them to a presumption of having good motives.

We should also constantly remind people that international institutions are not servants of all the people of the world, just all their governments. Some of these governments are good but many are not.

But even if they were all democratic--and most of the democratic ones are critical of us as well--that should not entitle them to the presumption of good motives relative to ours. Even if people are democratic it does not mean that their motives are good. Anyone on the left who criticizes the second Bush administration must at least admit that people can be misled about their true interests since it is obviously the case that Bush was democratically elected. If the American electorate can be mislead by ignorance or emotions of false pride into backing a policy that is against mankind's true best interests, why cannot the publics of advanced European democracies make the same sort of mistake?

Surely it requires a certain amount of willful ignorance to blame all our problems with the Muslim world on Israel. For instance, where is the Israel factor in the 325 Thais that have been killed so far this year in the Muslim quest to impose Sharia on that most tolerant of countries? Eight of these people have been beheaded, 27 of the dead are school teachers. But we can't expect this to go away until there is justice for the Palestinians. Then everything will be fine. And is it impossible to see how more than a little false pride may be at work when America is criticized by the UN for threatening to send Guantanimo detainees to their countries of origin while the human rights records of these same countries are not only not criticized but even rewarded (think of the Sudanese replacing the Libyans on the Human Rights Commission). Surely some of the indignation at America's supposed hypocrisy in claiming to be promoting Human Rights while countenancing such abuses could be motivated by the guilty knowledge of our detractors that they are by any measure far worse (it is, for instance, hard to make a brief for France on this score).

Which brings us to a final point. When criticizing another nation for human rights violations a nation inevitably makes itself open to scrutiny on the same issues. It would be rather a delicate thing for France to criticize the US for selling arms to Sadaam when they themselves sold about 250 times as much to him over any comparable period. Complaints about the Patriot Act would be rather hard to make if you were a government—and this includes almost any country on the planet, democracy or not—that grants its police even more latitude in investigations of even ordinary crimes. But put the criticism in the UN and the hypocrisy problem is solved. The UN has no human rights record to defend. It is a creature of the nations that compose it. Voicing criticisms through it has the effect of washing away all sins.

And why wouldn’t a nation take advantage of mechanism so beautifully adapted to the needs of the small, numerous and morally compromised. The thing we should remember is that the desire to take power from the US and put it into international institutions is not selfless—it results in an increase in power for almost all of the nations of the world. The desire for power is just as natural for small nations as for large—and not necessarily any more admirable.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


What are the implications of home-grown suicide bombers in America and now in England for the homeschooling and voucher movement? I used to be of the opinion that a few white supremacy/black supremacy fruit-loop operations would be a small price to pay for the efficiency gains to be had from breaking the public school monopoly. Now I am not so sure. Has anyone thought about this or seen anything on the subject? Of course one possibility is that there could be a trade off--a gain at the mean in exchange for a few bad outliers.

Necessary Murder

Defeat them utterly. That is the way to save lives. We talk about the wars caused by humiliating an enemy, but what about the wars caused by not humiliating an enemy? We blame WWII on the unfair peace imposed on the Germans in WWI, but the real problem might have been the incomplete victory imposed on them. Nail Ferguson talks about the German high command capitulating after they had purposely allowed a civilian government to be installed just in time to take the blame. Even though the situation was clearly hopeless they knew that the German people and most of their army, fed only the high command's propaganda, did not know that. So, when they found out Germany had surrendered they began the theorizing about conspiracies that lead to the rise of the radical parties, whose whole program were variants on finding out who betrayed us from within. On the other side, the clear lack of suffering on the German side was part of the reason the Allied population insisted on harsh surrender terms that continued seemingly forever.

The same thing happened in Iraq. Instead of paying the cost for total victory we decided to take a half victory. Instead, to achieve our war aims by ‘consent’ of the defeated, we imposed sanctions which went on hurting the innocent and allowing Sadaam to play the victim. By trying to be ‘kind’, to respect rights our enemy never reciprocated by respecting for us, we ended up hurting the people we claimed to be trying to help.

Instead of leveling Faluja as we would have done in WWII we have not only let ourselves in for a lot more trouble but have let a lot more Iraqis get killed. Afraid of criticism of the people that would have had Sadaam in charge this very day we have sentenced the people of Iraq to more murder at the hands of the old regime and the Jihadis. All this drivel about the moral superiority of a justice system that lets a hundred guilty men go free rather punish one innocent is fine unless those hundred are trying to overthrow your government by means of suicide bombing aimed at school children.

Imagine what would have happened in Japan and Germany if we had negotiated a settlement to WWII. No wholesale transformation, no complete abandonment of the old regime. Suppose we had combined a half victory with the policy of rehiring Nazis and Fascists from the old regime. We could afford to use people that were tainted by the past because the past was so utterly discredited. The regimes had based their legitimacy on might. Only complete defeat would de-legitimate them. Having shown our ability and willingness to slaughter we could afford to be magnanimous.

The if-only hawks, the people that were for the war and now say that we wouldn’t have these problems if only we had after the war done _____, make their main argument that we shouldn’t have disbanded the Iraqi army. Only half right. Fine to hire them once you have killed enough of them.