Somebody asked questions the other day about why America.. whoa here we go.. was too stupid to adapt the metric system like Europe. Well the obvious conventional wisdom is that we're stupid and have bad habits. But let's think about that for a moment.
Let's start with a yard. Not your yard, a yardstick. But your yard could be measured with a yardstick just as easily as it could be measured with a meter stick. Why? Because we know what a yard is and we know what a meter is and we know arithmetic.
Let's say your yard is rather large, like mine. It would then be 50 feet by 40 feet = 2000 square feet. Now there's something very nice about feet that we know, because feet divide into 12 inches. 12 is a special number because you can easily divide it in halves, thirds and quarters, and that is what you generally do with land. Yards are conveniently 3 feet. 36 can be divided very nicely too. But when you look at 360, then you get something that's rather strikingly brilliant.
360 can be divided by 2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10,12,15,18 and 20. That's rather clever don't you think? You can't do that with decimals so easily, and after all the point of any system is not that things can be measured. After all we could invent meters and re-invent them to be any arbitrary length and do the arithmetic. The strength of the metric system lies in its ability to scale by orders of magnitude. But scaling by orders of magnitude is not something that happens very often in the human scale. In engineering, sure. But not in home construction, food recipies, human measurement or any other of a dozen activities (hmm dozen) that we are regularly involved in. Now we could go into all of the ways we measure all of the things we do from miles per hour to paper sizes, but that long long discussion actually gets to the heart of Metric vs Imperial. In short, however, this is all about fractions.
Now a friend told me that there are two kinds of engineers in the world. The kind that have put a man on the moon, and the kind that use the metric system. The picture above is taken from his machine shop. It sounds like braggadocio until you listen for another minute. Then the man says 'SAE'. Now anybody who's turned a wrench in their lives knows something about SAE sockets vs Metric sockets. But if you look at what SAE actually was and is, things get very interesting.
Check out this dude Kettering. I don't know about you, but to me that's a career full of wowsers. 186 patents is no accident. He helped build GM into the world's largest company. But what's fascinating, as when I listen enough, is to learn how many parts in the world's market for parts are of SAE measure rather than of metric. I often think in terms of meters nowadays, but only for things that are linear. I will always think of pies when I have to divide, and I will think of fractions. But isn't it interesting, just looking at the picture, which is a better, simpler, faster way to measure?
Maybe the metric system is why we haven't put another man on the moon.
Now I'm going to show the other side here, because what we've done in America which is metric to the bone before just about every other nation is in our currency. More than just about anything, currency lies in the realm of Extremistan. Orders of magnitude are quite proper here. But at the small level of the ordinary consumer, we don't do much with pricing that accords to common 360 sense.
For example. In old money there were 12 pence to the shilling. That would be quite nice if you purchased many things by the dozen. If a dozen eggs cost a shilling, a half dozen eggs would be sixpence. A smart shopkeeper would try to price such things that way for the convenience of his customers. Then again, one might be a bit too clever (by half?) using the same system to obfuscate, as bakers may have throwing in for their extra sized dozen. We certainly don't price things logically at the farmer's market level, but clearly decimal pricing let's us see unit prices reflect economies of scale in bulk pricing. So for things that scale orders of magnitude, decimal is better.
By the way, what time is it?
Quote of the day from my friend DJ:
The only reason we know the names Ghandi and Martin Luther King are because the people of the US and UK weren't willing to use violence to enforce what they knew to be unjust policies. The Chinese Communist Party has no such qualms, which is why non-violence has not and will not work in China. The Dalai Lama has been quite successful at making people like him, and making people aware of China's conquest of Tibet, but Tibet is still conquered, it's culture destroyed, and it's history and language dying. And all the protests in the world will not save it. Non-violence protest is a useful tool against relatively civilized governments only. You have to be pretty delusional to think that a single tool will solve all problems.
I like that. It fits with a couple aphorisms I have on the matter.
The first is specific to MLK. Martin Luther King Jr's mistake was to consider non-violence as a strategy rather than a tactic. And to expand on that, MLK was never the leader that Nelson Mandela was. Mandela knew his tactics from his strategies. After all, he spent a much longer time in jail.
The second is specific to Americans in support of Tibet. Every American who has a 'Free Tibet' bumpersticker would rip it off their cars if they knew actually freeing Tibet meant sending troops. But that's why Tibet isn't free.
There's a broad gulf between nationbuilding and peacekeeping. But we don't seem to have a good vocabulary across that space that has working political currency in American foreign affairs. Clearly Obama hasn't advanced that understanding, except to the extent it allows him to use drone strikes. But drone strikes are a tactic and not a strategy. So Boko Haram, like the Janjaweed Militia and IS is yet another force acting with impunity against the interests of civil rights in their nations.
What to do? What to do?
A certain question divides world opinion. There are people who believe in equal rights before the law, and people who believe there ought to be different kinds of laws for different kinds people. People in cosmopolitan, modern nations like America tend to be of the first opinion. People in unfree societies spend a lot of time, because their lives depend on it, trying to bolster up their side in a zero-sum game, and hiding from gunmen if their side falls out of power. It's cultural.
The responsibility for the mess in Iraq is precisely a compromised regime of equal rights and the culture of the Iraqi people themselves who are unused to anything but monarchy. Once upon a time, America and other nations were committed to help fight the second opinion's violent power in that country. Today, not so much. I hear that we are sending about 300 advisors into a population of 32 millions.
The rule of law in Iraq and other 'crappy governments' (c.f. Cobb : Honor Killing & The Innocence of Muslims) is established in bloody spurts by sectarian groups, the militant ends are merely the tips of spears that would always be pointing at each other. Many wags say that this hostility is 1000 years old and America (and other civilized nations) ought to be ashamed to think that it can be solved. They are half right depending upon the racist content of the conclusion. There can be no denying that Sunni and Shi'ites, Arabs and Kurds are at each other's throats. But we dropped atomic bombs on Japan, and they are our friends only 50 years later.
The United Nations is called United Nations, not United Humans because in the context of an equivalency of civil rights (misnomered 'human rights') the world needs to be organized into Nations. Iraq has a civil rights problem and fell and will continue to fall into civil war because all of its minorities believe other minorities are not worthy of life and liberty under one law. Saddam could only enforce 'national' unity in exactly the same way Hitler did, by militarizing society and drawing the people into war - 9 years against Iran, America's old foe, in brutal genocide against the Kurds and subsequently against Kuwait, America's friend.
America, and every other nation on the planet needs peoples to be organized into nations. It is the unquestioned evolution of human organization. These nations require a singular constitutional law defending the civil rights of all its citizens and non-violent and frequent transfers of power. Any other arrangement will lead to sectarian disrespect and hostility.
This is key to the matter of terrorism because a state where the equivalent of political parties operate with violent impunity, aiming only to sustain the ambit of their authority, establishes a permanent state of corruption. Here we called it the Mafia. Whose civil rights are respected when the Mob is controlling things? Nobody's. We have become accustomed to the image of young fools brandishing weapons in their pickup truck patrols. ISIS in Iraq, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Haqqani Network in Afghanistan, C14 in Ukraine. None of these are nation-builders. They are native catalysts of chaos and destruction.
Whether you agree or disagree that America or any nation should assist in establishing the rule of law, civil rights and liberty for any people, you must understand people that don't have that will hate their neighbors and the only power they will respect is power. That's human behavior. Sectarian conflict is primitive, period. Those invested in such arrangements are always to be blamed for their failures to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty.
I personally believe with all my heart and soul that no person on this earth should not belong to a nation so dedicated and so consecrated. No one who believes in the brotherhood of mankind should believe otherwise. I understand that the price of evolution from sectarian rule and dictatorship is alwaysblood and treasure. So no matter how clumsy, any genuine effort to establish such rule of law and nationhood is a moral imperative of civilized countries with the wherewithal and courage required. Any backing away from such efforts is the co-signature of human misery.
The last time I checked, the linguists were pretty certain that there's no such thing as 'patois'. I seem to recall a consensus that all the accents and dialects are valid. I'm not begging, I'm just differing.
I'm a champion of the concept of modernity which says that all men are created equal - that what we know, even down to our natural ability to speak, can determine who we are in society. What we know. Identity can be tricky of course; you can decide that who you are has nothing to do with what you know, but what you look like, or what you feel like or where you are or who you know or what you hope. All those are tangents off modernity, and we properly call them post-modern. The modern man is what he knows and he comports himself so.
The automobile is an example of an item created in the modern world for the modern man. It is transportation. What matters is that you know how to drive it. A post-modern automobile might be endowed with an artificial intelligence to ask who you know. If you cannot prove that you know the right people, the car won't start. The same is the case, more or less, with the pre-modern horse. Beggers were not allowed to ride, and could be challenged by nobles and knights. But a modern automobile made in Germany doesn't care that you are anything other than a driver. That is because the ideal of modernity rules the automobile industry in Germany and everywhere else. They want to sell as many automobiles as possible to modern person. If you live in a tribe in Borneo, there is not a car marketed to you or your values or suitable to your way of life.
I go into this somewhat silly level of detail because I am reminded on the daily that many people don't quite respect the idea of modernity. There are obvious multicultural excesses, obsessions with gender definitions, sexual preferences, ethnic proclivities and religious affliations that dominate the humanities in America now. I am brought to mind, however, of the broader picture which was underscored to me the other day via a Gapminder 'ignorance' quiz.
It turns out that right now the global life expectancy is 70 years. The global literacy rate is 80%. Both of these phenomena are, according to the authors, unprecedented in human history. I believe them. I've finally answered for myself what to do for 20 years after the age of 60, but I suspect that most people have not. It's interesting that I intend, for many of those years, to continue writing books and software.
I choose to count myself amongst the worlds most literate. I cannot prove it at the moment, but my fluency in computer languages and in English counts for quite a lot in my estimation. There is no grammarian quite as strict as a compiler and chunking that sort of information for a living makes me quite the editor. Having read > 500 books is not inconsequential either. But the content and quality of those books and software and data are important too.
What will .8 * 7.131 billion literate people going to want to read? If we hadn't invented the Internet that would have been a quite serious logistical problem, even for modern German automobiles. Right now, wags are telling us that it's porno, the most compelling subject of our contemporary media. I would believe that as well. But Aldous Huxley reminds us that an intellectual is someone who has discovered something more interesting than sex. This is one reason why I take a dim view of multiculturalism's epistemological blow jobs which literally inflate the value of gender and sexual preference. Race, ethnicity, regionalism and religion don't offer much sophistication over the prior qualities, but at least they are associated with more sophiticated and higher order discriminations and bigotry. The multiculturalists have, in more recent years, progressed towards more and more crippling features in their press for equalities. We shall soon entertain more reasons why autistics should follow the pioneering spirit of Temple Grandin. We shall soon forget Geroge Washington find more and more holidays for even more fractional minorities, until such time, one imgines, that Mercedes does indeed make a limited run special edition sedan for the gay autistic albino outcast from Irian Jaya. Between now and then, we've got to get the poor blighter some reading material.
One of the more interesting phenomenon I recognize is the number of times some small news outfit mistakes a story from The Onion, a parody news organization, for a real story. The decline of journalism and American media is old news, and it calculates well from my point of view that this kind of error takes place all the time all over the world in every language. Dissonance and Ignorance are the two great generators of errors of cognition and understanding. Both are cured by intellectuality, by study, by the independent reasoning and discovery that attends serious reading and writing. Pardon me for not saying 'education', a term that bears too much lightweight freight as of late. How can it be avoided if not by referencing intellectual authority? It cannot. Well, it cannot in a modern world. In a primative world, intellectual authority is always provincial, accented, particular, tribal. And of course the mulitculturalists would have most of us look no further than our pudenda for the authority of our agenda.
But even beyond that are the hopeless games and charades played for no good reason in the kindergartens of literacy. Not to mention sheer dishonesty and fraud. If I remember correctly, the most crucial reason for public education is to enable self-rule. But if that takes place in an environment that will not make qualitative discriminations, or will not assert modernity, then such projects are doomed to failure. When the laws of the land are written with an arcane artificial intelligence that asks who you know, the car of civilization won't start for the common man. Likewise of the common man speaks an impenetrable patois legitimized by cultural relativists, no subtantial populations can benefit (without the interventions of the Gay Autistic Albino Societies of Greater Borneo). Also disabling self-rule. The business of protecting liberty is not for the weak-minded or the lollygagging spirit. It is the central conflict of humanity.
So since I have last looked, I would hope that there may have arisen some controversy about the absence of patois among linguists. When everyone has their own books, reprinted to match their own preferences - well there's the real filter bubble problem. There becomes no world and exchange becomes impossible. What allows computers to instantly communicate across the globe is the discipline of standards, which are so exacting that dumb machines perform them regularly without error. Literacy requires standards as well. There must be, I find myself having to assert to my own chagrin, better and worse. Hope is not a strategy, so despite my intentions that linguists do the right thing, I must do some work of my own. Maybe an essay or two. Maybe publish it on the Internet.
When I was a kid, my father used to tell me that one day, we black people would take over South Africa and get all of its gold and diamonds and we'd be so strong and powerful that white people all over the world would repsect and fear us. That idea stayed in my head, unaltered for so long that I found myself lying about it for no reason in high school. I told one of my prep schoolmates that I had been to Cape Town. I hadn't of course, but I had imagined myself there with a house overlooking the city. There's a lot of fantastic romance surrounding Nelson Mandela and South Africa. So all the foof around his death is familiar to me.
I happen to be one of those oinks who had pictures on my bedroom wall of ANC propaganda. When I was in my late twenties and I read my first Noam Chomsky and Amnesty International, I decided to try to educate myself about something other than what went on here. I chose not only South Africa, continuing from collegiate shenanigans but Southern Africa, specifically Namibia. But that was oh so long ago. I tried to understand the world uranium trade and imagined myself living in Windhoek in that country, dominated by South Africa, as large as California on the other side of the planet. I remember paying specific attention to the Harare Accords and the UN Convention on Racism and actually spent a lot of time thinking about what foothold racism got in America because the Declaration of Independence, unlike the Harare Accords, didn't speak out explicitly on matters of racist offense. Before I wised up, my like of thought was this:
So how could we, in principle, create a document that exclaims loudly against racism, as the Declaration of Independence did against Monarchy. What goes into creating an Anti-Racist Manifesto? Incidentally, that is what brought me, the second time around to the Harare Accords. If I were a legal scholar, I might ask myself, comparatively speaking, which set of laws between that of the new South African Constitution, which includes significant language from the Harare Accords, and our own system and amendments is more completely anti-racist. I would actually include the new Germany as well as several other nations. I suspect that theoretically speaking, South Africa beats us, considering as I have, some of the work of Kimberle Crenshaw, Linn Washington, Patricia J. Williams and Judge Higgenbotham. Of course, I'm not a legal scholar and am unfamiliar with the details of the South African legal system. However I am aware of the UN Treaty on Racial Discrimination and I know that the U.S. did not become a signer until about 1996. I also recognize that you can go to jail in America for holding up a 7-ll for 50 dollars, but not for firing somebody because you think he's a nigger. We have no criminal law for racism. You can be a capital R racist and run for office in America's form of democracy, because America's form of democracy is compatible with racism. But notice you cannot run for King. You cannot run for president of the supreme Soviet. So I ask you, what is a bigger threat to democracy? Monarchy, Communism or Racism? We've lived with racism longer than with Communism or Monarchy?
I read both books by Mark Mathabene, Wood's biography of Stephen Biko and had a typical Western attraction to the work of Gordimer. Once upon a time, I followed the wars in Angola and could tell you where Cuban troops were fighting and on whose side. I think people forget the extraordinary mashup of international interests and mercenary actions in those days, but how about these words UNITA and Jonas Savimbi. Do you remember if we were for him or against him and why? I could recite the names of various South African leaders and movements, and on my own, I tried to send money to MK, the radical militant terrorist wing of the African National Congress. I discovered, fortunately not the hard way, that sending money to opposition parties in foreign countries is seriously frowned on by the State Department, and you really don't want to be on their list as someone supporting militant operators abroad. So I attempted to satisfy myself by attending solidarity rallys and seminars and such.
None of those activities were satisfying. It was the same combination of liberal bourgeios condescention (poodle lady money), ignorant anger (x-hat illiterates), community organization (hold that sign a little higher for the cameras please), professorial woolgathering, four or five attractive Peace Corps volunteers, Oxfam expatriates and diligence-doing grad students trolling for policy wonk creds, and of course the crowd. Nobody really knows anything for certain, the details are more complex than anybody wants to admit and there are about 30 agendas going on. As for me, half the time I was actually trying to find a good book recommendation, the other half I was just trying to spot the narc or a cute chick in dreads. I wish we had the internet back then. Now we do and the situation is no better.
A lot of people talk about the squishiness of the term 'freedom fighter'. I've never met a Progressive American who likes to talk against GWBush's definition of terrorist vis a vis freedom fighters that are willing to acknowledge that Americans who want to buy guns in defense of their Constitutional rights are freedom fighters too.
You can't really be familiar with Nelson Mandela if you're not aware of his rocky relationship with his wife, Winnie. And while its fairly common knowledge that she was arrested for her involvement with the beat down of some kid named Stompie and her advocacy for necklacing. I understood that vibe completely, I know how black activists get when they discover that black plainclothes cops have been attending their teach-ins. They want to kill the race-traitors. Winnie had that power and she used it, whom are we kidding?
I liked MK more than the mainstream ANC. I was rather all-in from my distance. When it came to the elections, I didn't necessarily want them to win. I was one of those who wanted the country to be renamed to Azania, because I was hip like that. Yes of course I was one of those geeks who could name more than five townships and could sing Xhosa lyrics to my favorite Miriam Mikeba songs and had all that Sarafina! jazz in my mixtapes and talked about how wimpy, yet beautify LBM were when they sang. After all, they were Christians, not true freedom fighters. When it came to the ANC, I preferred Thabo Mbeki over Joe Slovo. But because I had ingested so much of those politics and culture, it didn't come to me as any possible surprise that there were dirty doings in the details. So while a lot of Americans were priding themselves on know how to do the Toi Toi dance or sing Nkosi Sikelele Afrika, at some point the whole thing became like discussing American politics from the perspective of interpreting a Public Enemy record. Just more radical chic.
When Mandela came to Los Angeles, I think I went to one of the events. I don't remember precisely. What I do remember was that I got my Pan=African red black and green flag from a vendor who made it in South Africa. Along with the posters in my bedroom, it was my outward sign for a long time. When I moved to Hermosa Beach and went to hang out on the and play volleyball, I would stick the little palm sized flag onto my beach chair so that I could easily be found.
Have you ever gotten very sick or had somebody close to you die and noted the difference between the people who send you 'best wishes' and those who say 'you are in my prayers'? Sometimes of us want the best wishes, and some of us want the prayers. That's how I view the sentiments towards Mandela, a whole lot of best wishes and prayers waiting for a post-facto testimony to the power of positive thinking. I actually did want to see some blood, but I wanted to have some cool music as well, and I think I was about as connected as it's legally possible to be and not be a part of a university department or government liason office.
Then of course there was trade. And I have gotten into debates about how Dick Cheney and George P. Schultz, two men I admire a great deal, went contrary to the popular best wishes and prayers for Mandela when it came to the Boycott movement. I went back and forth about Reagan's policy of Constructive Engagement, and finally decided not to care. And to this day I think it is the most compelling of the stories I have, at my silly distance to the power politics of nation building.
You see while Mandela was still in jail, South Africans were drinking CocaCola. Now if you wanted to boycott the Nationalist Party, you would want to support a ban on all trade and starve the people of American goods, so that internal political pressure would be brought to bear. And similarly it would go for other American companies. But on the same list of American companies that, according to us anti-apartheid activists, should not be doing business with South Africa would be Boeing. So should South Africans be forced to ride on less safe aircraft while Boeing is restricted from selling parts or providing maintenance? Or should the policy make special loopholes? And what should we do about those companies like Coca Cola who, here in the US, have one of the best Affirmative Action programs in the world? Wouldn't they be more likely to hire blacks than the native companies? Some of the hardliners said whatever, the point is that evil Reagan is supporting American Businesses, and the Sullivan Principles really don't go to the heart of the matter and we're really just finding a way to split the difference because none of this is going to overcome the obstinance of DeKlerk. So they concluded the reverse. We should just keep doing business as usual with South Africa so that the blacks there can see that all of the White Power Strucutures in the world are doing business with the Nationalist Party, and that will bring the revolution even sooner.
The whole thing should have taught me earlier the limits of democracy and activism. Well, it kinda did, which is why I was hoping for some militant solutions. I had no doubt that Inkhata and those Zulus would have some cans of whoopass while those like Mbeki would be all diplomatic with the Europeans.
Personally, I prefered Stephen Biko and I have come to unabashedly admire his style of leadership. We here in the US have that same idea in the form of the aphorism "There's no limit to what you accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit". Mandela today is getting all the credit. I can't honestly say what he did before he went to jail. It didn't seem to matter. After all, here in the US, lots of people could outthink MLK, but MLK was the one who could draw the crowds - the figurehead of a movement whose actions were well understood by 100 more on the ground and unknown around the world. Mandela in jail became Morgan Freeman before there was a Morgan Freeman. Grandaddy. Godfather.
I don't know what's going on in South Africa and I don't much care. I like the South Africans I know, but they're all here and must be here for a reason. I've read a bit by Thomas Sowell and he gave a lot of interesting background on Jews and Indians in South Africa, people whose roles we Americans never pay attention to. Whatever happened if South Africa, I cannot imagine that Americans can take much credit or blame outside of our foreign policy of Contstructive Engagement, and I'm not sure at all on how to judge its worth or effect. As I said, even here, we were all over the place on it and its complications amounted to.. well I don't know. Were they wishes or prayers?
Kant's Categorical Imperative says, if I remember it correctly, that you can judge a person based upon their moral sentiments which we intuitively and inherently know to be good or evil. So I suspect that's what a lot of the second guessing is all about. We were all morally right. We wanted to see blacks in South Africa achieve self-rule, and our sentiments and gesundheits for the late lamented Mandela are our outward signs to show that our hearts were in the right place. I think he was heroic, but I also think he was more ready to go to war than a lot of Americans like to remember. My guess is that South Africa is poorly run and that it took about three weeks for the newly elected people to realize how to redirect the grift - that the black masses have still not truly achieved self-rule.
We're all good people and we say gesundheit as a matter of good manners. It takes more than good manners and recognition of good manners to achieve and sustain freedom.
I think that the least warlike sort of military aggression we should consider as a matter of course is a no fly zone, which is the 21st century equivalent of a naval blockade. But we should also consider naval blockades, which implies that we should have some kind of blockade on the ground. This is what I would call active containment. As part and parcel of active containment we should have a a flying command center swiping up all sorts of military communications and task a satellite to basically spy the hell out of the bad guy regime. We then share this information with enemies of the regime and essentially jail the country.
The next thing we should do is import about 50,000 exportable middle class, rich and poor folks and put them up in a new suburb we build for them somewhere in New Mexico. Why New Mexico? Why not? We are really good at building Walmarts and McDonalds and parking lots and houses. Why not put a lot of people to work just building a new city? Make sure that we get them on the news every damned day, as soon as they learn how to speak English and say the Pledge of Allegiance.
These are not acts of war. These are acts of empire, and we need to get back into that business, but more specifically into the second aspect of that business, which is to import some fresh foreigners and let them volunteer to join the US Army so that they can be military advisors.
But more seriously, I predicted that Obama would be a retarded foreign policy president. I don't think he can bomb his way out of his predicaments. If the United States had anything close to a standard playbook when it comes to countering the outrages of tyrannical regimes around the world, we wouldn't have to go through the sort of monkey business that the current administration finds itself pandering. Just like 'the US does not negotiate with terrorists' there ought to be some standard offensive and defensive maneuvers the US ought to have on contingency.
Assad has been a disaster waiting to happen for as long as he's been in office. We all knew it. Neocons like me were saying we should have given license to Israel to smash him up way back in the.. hmm let's see:
See, a lot of muttonheads keep forgetting that Syria's madness has kept Lebanon on edge for years. And now Beirut is seeing people tried for rocket attacks. Rocket attacks? That ain't normal. So the suggestion that this is all about Syrians killing Syrians and what do we care, is just more ostrich feathers.
American foreign policy in the Middle East ought to be simple and consistent. But Obama made the dramatic break when he promised to meet, as head of state, and talk with Assad and Castro back in 07. So now, having been handed this not-so-stunning development the revelation that he's done nothing shows his indifference to any reality that conflicts with his vision of negotiated settlements with such parties.
At any rate, the basic premise is that lousy governments are the bane of liberty, and lousy governments who use chemical weapons need to be squashed. Period. America remains the superpower lurking in its own shadow, the improper empire and weak under this President who really doesn't seem to understand a great number of things a president should understand. I'm saddened that he isn't the moderate he pretended to be, he just moderated his radicalism. If he was a true moderate, he would be strong in moderation, but in fact he is weak in moderation, and his flippidy floppity tap dancing is only amusing to his emboldened enemies.
(Published 9/10, and he still hasn't decided)
When Iran drops the bomb. You'll know who to blame. These are the wasted days.
If you merely wish to acknowledge that everyone has rights, or as Jefferson et al put it, is endowed by the Creator in an inalienable way, well that's one thing. But acknowledgement and defense are two different things. Somebody has got to defend rights.
Let's look at the outlying conditions. In condition A, you are denied acknowledgement. In the old American racism dichotomy you had Southern Racism and Northern Racism. Southern racism says you can get socially close, but not too high. That would wold be defense without acknowledgement. The Southern bigot will defend you as a friend but deny that you can do *anything*. Northern racism says you can high but not too close. That would be acknowledgement without defense. The Northern bigot will say that, yes of course in *theory* you can do anything you like, but don't expect any help from *me*. Foggy? Yeah probly. But think about it.
I'm taking the oppressed minority metaphor angle because I just read something totally squishy in a multicultural victimology sense that also makes perfect civilized sense. Such occasions are rare and I want to take the opportunity to ackowledge and defend the principle at work, which is that Rights are the Gifts of the Strong, as in Noblesse Oblige.
If you know what cosplay is, if you are something of a geek on the comic side of the universe of fiction which sometimes approaches literature, then you probably know what Penny Arcade is. Therefore you would know what PAX is and you are probably familiar with the Dickwolf Controversy. If you are none of these things and had to put your hand down as I elaborated, all you need to know is the following:
Young adults who dig comics and videogames and fantasy fiction have aggregated themselves into an annual conference in celebration of their emergence from marginality. In other words, America has created yet another un-classically reared multi-million dollar industrial titanic 'community' from the peasantry. And like most Americans who emerge as a strident sort of minority claiming rights like 'freedom of speech'; like most Americans who suffer the need for self-aggrandizing rage; like most Americans who take their success from humble beginnings as evidence of justice, the leaders of PAX have become self-important boorish assholes, who are clueless about the difference between being right and being proper.
What's this? A difference between being right and proper? Dare we bring class and propriety into such matters? Yes we must, because of that little thing called power. And this is what was evidenced in the semi-brilliant essay I read this morning.
You see, several years ago such and such a comic mentioned slaves being raped all night by the dickwolves, which is an excruciatingly biting image. Well, I suppose you should see the comic to get the gist. Still, it should be obvious that nobody of any moral education could possibly argue for slaves to be continually raped, but is freeing 3% of them heroic? OK it's heroic, but is it heroic enough? Hold that thought. The Dickwolf Controversy involves the kind of bruha one would expect at a Northern California liberal university in which actual victims of rape show up, escorted by recently bored activists who now have a cause, to protest this gratuitous slap in the face with their newly printed No Bully signs. In this case, the leaders of PAX showed up to counter-protest claiming freedom of expression, in their newly printed Dickwolves t-shirts. The leaders of PAX, influential as they must be as demiurges of the videogame and fantasy comic book industry ultimately had the bigger wallets, and failed to issue the requisite non-apology. Of course, they're not wrong. But they're also hella wicked improper.
Since I grew up assuming the airs of the Talented Tenth, I am no stranger to Noblesse. I have learned what is proper, and to my immediate right, as if I needed to prove such things, is my Funk & Wagnells Blue Book by Emily Post. But as the Madoff-defrauded gentry of Palm Beach know all too well, the social register ain't what it used to be. Victimology is the new virtue, but what it lacks in prestige, it makes up for in self-righteousness. Well there is something to be said for prestige and propriety which this new class of self-righteous virtues politically-correct types are all to unwilling to admit. They cling to their post-modern narratives and do everything possible to isolate their morality from those who held power, prestige and propriety in Western history. They have no respect for old money, or its ways and means. To the new breed it all smells of Colonel Blimp's colonialism.
But propriety must be the standard for the emergent powers as well. At some point, they must put down the pitchforks and pick up the teacups. In the end, wearing snarky t-shirts is the mark of someone who doesn't want to be responsible, but just make powerful noise. The world emphatically does not need more powerful noisemakers, because some values are simply absolute. And this is what our essayist, squishy feminist protester that she may be, does in fact recognize, with precisely the subtlty the situation called for. If you are going to give credibility to the power of fanboys of alternative fantasy universes, there are still some old school standards of propriety they are going to have to adhere to in order to maintain any respectability whatsoever.
Now let's get back to the gifts of the strong. Clearly in the case of the PAXian pro-dickwolf chavs, their feisty claims to freedom of expression gave rise to dunderheaded peasant vulgarity, which they felt no compulsion to rise above, apologize for or reign in. You can call email rape threats bullying but it seems to me our feminist friend ultimately did what makes sense, which is to call them on their incivility and discriminate. What may arise from this principled choice may end up as a feminist alternative to the alternative, but hopefully not. The proper observation from my POV is to note the cracked moral foundation of the PAX leadership and their ultimate inability to lead civilized people. PAX, under such guidance, will degenerate, like rap did, for the same 'anti-feminist' reasons, which should lead us to recall that perhaps there is no virtue in anti-social nerddom, no matter how many anti-social nerds one aggregates into a 'community'. In short, there are no gifts forthcoming, these dudes aint so strong.
Secondarily and tangentially though, let us expand the idea up the nation-sized.
Our president decided back in 2007 that he might meet personally with Bashar Assad who was cosplaying his father's dictatorial rule over Syria. As time progressed, Assad proceded to become less fantastically and more realistically a rapist of slaves, especially with regard to their rights which he obviously didn't defend or acknowlege. On the way to becoming a target of chemical weapons, you predictably lose both acknowledgment and defense. The junior Assad, of course, was weak, and had to show strength through callous brutality. Not real virtue, but the dishonorable, unprestigious and improper noise of abusive power. Something those who consider themselves victims will always be quick to demonstrate.
And so what kind of dickwolvian tales do we have to hear from the Syrians, or in fact anyone suffering under tyrants before we become anything more than 3% heroic? If you remember properly, we sent Condi Rice over to Lebanon to make sure that Hezbollah and other Syrian funded commandos were safe from those evil Israelis. And of course Americans were absolutely convinced, or so went our policy, that Israel was a much worse ruler over people than the Syrian backed commandos. Because Cedar Revolution PAX! Or some such illogic. And so we were 3% effective. Iran backed Syria, Syria backed Hezbollah and Hezbollah is better than Israel because Hezbollah serves Palestinians unconditionally. Right? That is a question I think too few people are contemplating. And this is testament to the new (strength) of America, which is our complete unwillingness to see this same kind of pattern and be heroic.
In the wake of the failure of the Iraq War to satisfy my neoconservative dreams, I recognized the genius of Russell Kirk who said there is no such thing as Human Rights. That is because there is no international sovereign power, and God help us if there ever is. There is only national sovereign power and thus only Civil Rights. A lot of Americans might pretend to say that there is a such thing as Human Rights and acknowledge that Syrians have them as do the Chinese and the people of Myanmar. Yes, they have Human Rights in theory we acknowlege, but you already know that they won't be defended.
I just completed my second recent George Orwell books. The first was The Road to Wigan Pier, and the second was Such Such Were The Days. What occurs to me this morning is that we need a rethinking of class and patriotism. At this moment in the history of the West, I think none of us are entirely clear about to whose benefit we have amassed and try to direct the powers of law. Nor are we sure about what our national culture is and who best exemplifies it. We are in a muddle of transition of sorts.
I take this angle because of what what I have learned of Orwell in reading his stuff. But let me preface this by outlining my intent in reading him in the first place. You see, I have been unsuccessful in engaging someone I might consider a serious liberal, and I have a difficult time reconciling what they believe they are doing and what is right about their properly motivated civilizing process. I have decided that there is some inate value in the altruism of the Left, which is nothing more or less that the biological attraction we have to baby smell, and our sympathy to the suffering of others. But since we have aggregated ourselves into towns and cities and regions and realms, we suffer from foolish blocky definitions, and our decision process and organizations remain primitive shadows of what they ought to be. As we computer scientists like to say, we have scaled up a kludge. Of course it's breaking.
I remain singularly impressed with Niall Ferguson's explanation of how America won the Cold War. We built and bought home appliances and we played baseball. These are things that could never have been done by central planning. So despite the fact that the Soviet idea had captivated all of the power it needed to survive a millennium, its kludges broke more quickly. I mean it obviously helps that Stalin was an autocratic tyrant, but even if he were a genius, he couldn't control the urge for Levi's, and his flunkies could not build them. The Stalinist Middle Class was a failure because the Soviet Empire could not deliver the goods. It couldn't even know what they were. Moreover, the Stalinist Middle Class was too diverse and too large to be ruled by conditions other than oppression, and so spun out of control because the ambitions of control were too large.
Liberty, and the manufacture of pleasant diversions and home appliances scale under the proper regimes. But we have to identify what we mean by scale. In 1937 when Orwell wrote his arguments in favor of Socialsim, there were some 40 million Britons of whom 20 million were poor. There was this thing called Structural Unemployment which had to do, if I may be reductive, with the fact that in those days every Briton knew exactly what to expect of a man who makes 100 pounds a year. Their class, their accent, their clothing, their needs, wants and aspirations were quite well understood by the educated upper middle class Briton (making 2000 pounds, one presumes). I would extend this by saying that the British Empire, democratically alone among the Empires of human history, rose precisely because so many millions of humans around the world could be budgeted along those very well understood pounds and pence. So many of those humans lived in the sort of misery that could be cured with a 30% raise. All they needed was 60 million more pounds, those poor blighters, and such a proletariat could live in greater dignity, meaning a lot less filth. Considering that so many were miners and such a small fixed constellation of things they were, that it was easy for men with the intellect of Orwell to conceive of a permanent solution which was not the opportunism of war.
Orwell saw the heart of the problem of adopting socialism which was how to actually socialize the idea. After all, welfare for the grubby class that comes at the expense of the pretty if petty bourgeois is not going to fly. The social objections were many, and substantial, although those possessed with the fury for revolutionary change patently sniff at such barriers to ultimate comradeship. But of course the key element is the fact of revolution itself, of changing the relationship between all government power and authority by snatching out of the hands of the capitalists and allocating it to one grand scientifically planned trust fund for the proletariat, overseen by a hand picked vanguard board of trustees. Whose hands do what picking? In Britain and America, we ever found out.
What eventually happened to socialism is that it did not, and to my mind clearly could not, become an internationalist project. Instead the project's ambitions were downsized to fit inside a corporate budget. All any socialist wants today is a 30% raise and most of them work their entire union careers to get it incrementally. It's still about curing 'structural unemployment', but their definition of 'worker' has changed. Today it means any man, not any actual working man. That constellation of fixed skills and the proper fit of the 100 pound to 130 pound lifestyle has lost all discipline.
Today we ignore the scientific aspects of socialism, with regard to the specific fact that 'scientific' referred to the advance of the industrial revolution. No socialism could take place without some massive transfer of natural to man-made resources. The promise of socialism was to be found in the scientific industrial production of all manner of goods. Orwell spends much time describing with fascination the advent of 'tinned food', if you could imagine yourself in an era where markets were never supermarkets and no such thing as branding and marketing of tomatoes ever took place. But somehow, clever scientific businessmen have indeed figured out how to feed the masses affordably. No longer is it about 'big coal bosses'. Our nations economies have evolved vastly, and all that once seemed the domain of the promise of scientific socialism was actually created by scientists working for real capitalist bosses.
As Orwell notes much later after WW2, there's a new middle class working for those industrial revolutionary capitalists and it has extended down into the ranks and files of those previously known as the 'rank and file'. All proletarians wear Levi's now. In 1910, one's accent, style of dress, and education could all be pinpointed with canny accuracy not only by the likes of Sherlock Holmes, but by anyone of his class. And that was that. By 1950 any drill press operator could put on a Sunday suit the like of which Cary Grant might sport.
Now in the 21st Century, we have fossilized the very last Soviet dream of universal health care into a fantastic projection of what the future corporate budgets will be. But we have done so without any corresponding evidence of an impending economic upswing comparable to the modernizations of the pre-WW2 Europe. There are no remaining scientific pockets to pick for the next 30% raise. More importantly, there is no identifiable class of proles upon which to fixate other than the genuine degenerates of the post-industrial world. In other words, us. The middle class is now the beneficiary class of the new Left vaguard board of trustees, and our destitution is defined by our own degeneracy.
Orwell's meditations on the effects of modernization and degeneracy are a model of precise argumentation. His point is partially illustrated in the following passage which is often the very same argument echoed in today's contretemps between liberals and conservatives - most notably about the honor of military service:
And why should physical strength survive in a world where there was never the need for physical labour? As for such qualities as loyalty, generosity, etc., in a world where nothing went wrong, they would be not only irrelevant but probably unimaginable. The truth is that many of the qualities we admire in human beings can only function in opposition to some kind of disaster, pain or difficulty; but the tendency of mechanical progress is to eliminate disaster, pain and difficulty. In books like The Dream and Men Like Gods it is assumed that such qualities as strength, courage, generosity, etc., will be kept alive because they are comely qualities and necessary attributes of a full human being. Presumably, for instance, the inhabitants of Utopia would create artificial dangers in order to exercise their courage, and do dumb-bell exercises to harden muscles which they would never be obliged to use. And here you observe the huge contradiction which is usually present in the idea of progress. The tendency of mechanical progress is to make your environment safe and soft; and yet you are striving to keep yourself brave and hard. You are at the same moment furiously pressing forward and desperately holding back. It is as though a London stockbroker should go to his office in a suit of chain mail and insist on talking medieval Latin. So in the last analysis the champion of progress is also the champion of anachronisms.
Orwell, George (1972-10-18). The Road to Wigan Pier (p. 194). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
It is not military service, per se, that is at issue. Orwell notes with a keen insight that those goods to be redistributed by their redistribution nullifies the benefit of the struggle to create them in the first place. Even in our post-industrial society, we are plagued with the same dilemma. Whomever redistributes the goods must recognize that the skills of the creation of those goods is entirely lost on the beneficiaries of the redistribution. In our case, the most important of these is that skill which recognizes the conditions under which their creation can simply not be afforded. The thief (or the vanguard board of trustees, if you will) has no concept of the actual value of his plunder. He operates in a black market which necessarily withholds information and operates under different rules - the rules of appropriation, not the rules of entrepreneurship. After all, the socialist seeks a new regime, neh? The black market necessarily sells goods on the cheap based on scarcity, not on inherent - the recipients of these benefits are selected for the central planning of the appropriator, not according to their ability to pay, but by their special circumstances. After all, a thief does not want to sell to the FBI informant who is all too willing to pay.
The point of this analogy and of this entire essay is that the definition of class has undergone a vast change since the days in which anyone could clearly identify the proletarian 100 pound misery and prescribe a simple tax on the capitalists and provide the ethical instructions for the upper (educated) middle class to shift their allegiances from the old regime to the new. The middle classes of the West are too large, and most importantly, the principles of socialism are meaningless, unenforceable and therefore lost to a post-colonial world.
What remains is China. And all China can be is a meritocracy of misery, or perhaps a genuinely stunted human who remains blind to the blessings of liberty. North Korea remains small enough for the sort of autocratic tyrannies to persist. China is far too large. So I predict civil war, again. But I do have a bit more to study on the Middle Kingdom.
What I do know is that American class is changing and there is no new revolution in the making. If I am right, then all of the internet's obfuscations will aggreate only to a foolish upper middle class who will continue to play outrageous sums of money for the intellectual and entertainment equivalent of 'tinned food'. It is this effluvia they will peddle to the new ahistorical lower class like so many comic book movie remakes. And they will all eat in and work in chicken joints. But I digress.
My Middle Class is one that I think will emerge on a moral and ethical front. Mine is the lower upper middle class of America. We are the people who use a combination of meritocratic systems and social powers to establish and maintain our status and affluence. We know things that matter and we know how to do things that matter. We are a working class, and this is somewhat unique to an America that provides a great deal more to the common man than England did in the 1930s. For what we have in America is not only automobiles but several manufacturers of automobiles, and in this and other industries, products and services are provided in such a way as to make a larger permanent set of competencies. If England faced socialism because the permanent unemployment of coal miners (due to a small monoculture of capitalist investors), America would not because of it larger, more diverse class of capitalist investors. This, in turn establishes a social momentum that keeps a larger literate class - the upper middle class, and among them, the most capable segment I call The Slice.
I think of The Slice, however as the only substantial meritocracy, and I think of it in feudal terms. They are the people who work directly for the Powers That Be. Yet the upper middle class, which is (I estimate) 3 or 4 times larger than The Slice itself, knows exactly what The Slice should be doing, and is always vying for those positions. It is this large and competent upper middle class that define American culture and society, as everyone in the middle class and below aspire to their affluence and freedom, and the small numbers of the Ruling Class make them ineffective at controlling their creativity. In America, my wild guess is that the upper middle class numbers between 20-35 million, which is about 6-12 percent of our population. More accurately, in 2011, about 38 million households had income of 75-200k per year. The substantial point is that I see this as the proof of the establishment of a class system far beyond the conceptualizations of the early socialists such as Orwell.
America has more than a million millionaires, and that is a divergent enough class of capitalists to establish a continuity of capital that can be robust, even anti-fragile against the sorts of stagnated, narrow investments and under-investments that created permanent unemployment. The interests of the moneyed class and the talents of the upper middle class are both now so substantial that they can support much greater numbers of the needs and desires of the common man. Furthermore, the universality of this global upper class, is the fascinating phenomenon that is transforming the world. This is the new jet set and we know what time it is UTC.
This American upper middle class is accustomed to and aware of the way it works for global capital. It lives in international cities like Los Angeles. It eats a variety of cuisines. It speaks a variety of languages. It has a style and a substance that is evidence of civilization. Where you see its garbage of empty Starbucks cups, and Perrier water bottles, you know that you are in a high rent neighborhood. What I want to suggest re-establishes the thesis - the loyalties of this class is a bit more diverse than that of The Slice. The Slice works directly for the Powers that Be, the upper middle stands in reserve and sometimes creates its own Alternative Slice in anticipation of a future seduction of new Rulers to new rules. The man who is not working for Intel today but finds a way to design tommorows computer chips in a superior way seeks to improve on the current regime. This is a 'bottom up' solution searching for the right investors, and the investor class is well aware of such upstarts. But what of nationalism?
I want to assert in brief that America has maintained liberty through the production of domestic products and services aimed towards the fulfillment of desires of choice above and beyond desires of need for the common man. These are, in many ways, the fundamental interests of the US - to protect the supply lines and trade arrangements that keep global capital invested here. The provide the infrastructure that keeps our international cities attractive to The Slice and to provide such a home for investors who would keep our economy fluid and strong. To provide for the broad open society that encourages the advancement of individuals and families into upward social mobility for the common man, and to maintain the infrastucture of domestic tranquility. This is constrained into nationalism out of tradition and law, but in matters of war and peace the preponderant interests of the upper middle class is unclear. There is too little of the nation's economy, unlike in the days preceeding the World Wars, that stands to benefit from war production.
However, the interests of the upper middle class, are very much like the interests of the Western ruling class in that it cannot afford to operate in pre-industrial conditions. And those who threaten the infrastructure of the West are thus intolerable. That is not necessarily a national interest, but neither is it something dictated or constrained by international law, per se. It is not international law that makes Singapore attractive to the upper middle class. It is not nationalism that motivates traitors like Edward Snowden. It is the fundamental usefulness their talents provide to the Ruling Class and the high rewards that make their social standing - not only in one country, but universally.
My class is the global upper middle class. We may be nationalists only of convenience. We will not be seduced by socialism because our existence is as permanent as the global supply chain of oil, steel and data. The common man still looks up to us - as we are the common man, improved. Our native land is civil liberty.
I have read Edward Snowden's recent interview in the Guardian and recognize the depth of his heroism. I think he is challenging all of us on several levels. If it is possible for a double-agent to be respectable, then he has just about all I can give. That's because I beleive he is smart, conscientious and that he has the goods on the NSA. So much so that lots of people are scared to death to present them.
...remember that just because you are not the target of a surveillance program does not make it okay. The US Person / foreigner distinction is not a reasonable substitute for individualized suspicion, and is only applied to improve support for the program. This is the precise reason that NSA provides Congress with a special immunity to its surveillance.
At the core of Snowden's challenge is to consider the value of suspicionless surveillance from a cost benefit analysis to American citizenship. Most publications have picked up on that 'consent of the governed' piece. But then he throws us a deeper, moral consideration. If the NSA gives us civil libertarians pause, it is because its awesome apparatus is aimed at American citizens. Snowden challenges us further by implication - if we don't like our privacy violated because we have not given informed consent by our government, then what hope does any non-US citizen have? In this regard, Snowden is not merely asking a civil rights question, but a human rights question.
Except that he can't because there is no such thing.
Yes, I'm repeating that old line of paleo-conservatives that there is no such thing as human rights. Unless and until the actual New World Order comes into being, we are citizens of nations, and as such there are only those civil rights we are guaranteed by our constitutions, within the ambit of our nation's ability and willingness to defend them. Everything else is wishful thinking. Especially when it comes to SIGINT. It is thus absurd for anyone, especially an American vetted into the highest echelons of the American Military-Security Complex (aka Echelon) to expect some higher authority than the self-interest of American citizens to reign in that which was built for our benefit.
It comes down to the simple question of whether or not we believe that the average American will be persecuted. And that eventually comes down to whether or not we actually trust our government in this matter, and I firmly believe that will come down to cases.
My personal opinion is that I find it difficult to believe that the NSA is out of control. So long as there are appropriate controls and oversight, I think Americans' well-justified fears of abuse of NSA powers can and will prevail. I think that American military leadership will not be hushed. I also believe that the CIA and the NSA and all of the new intelligence organizations are more incompetent than evil. I have advocated for a separate MI5 domestic surveillance agency and for a separate counter-terrorism court a la Posner. Yes of course the possibility for abuse is there, but is this an area that we would rather not police? That's a tough question, and although I fall on the libertarian side of that equation, I do not believe that the system has been abused enough to justify its dismantling. This is a specie of a Cold War question of unilateral disarmament. We survived Cold War nukes. We can survive NSA snoops. But can we survive Islamist nukes without NSA snoops?
So the only real pressing question is whether or not we trust the FISA court. If we do not, and we believe that the NSA tail is wagging the FISA dog, then our problem is not at all with PRISM. Rather this is a specie of Iraq War torture. In short, either the Administration knows exactly what the NSA is doing or they don't. If they don't, then the answer lies in the direction of Snowden's admonishment - but only to the extent that we the people are willing to eyeball our consent with discipline. Of course we in the alarmed public will inevitably punt that duty to the attorney class. The law *is* transparent, isn't it? If we do know what the NSA is doing (wrong) then what is it? So. Who has disappeared? Where are all the victims of this snooping and what pain has been visted upon them by our watchdogs? Are we, in this era of Benghazi incapable of sniffing out what goes horribly wrong?
See the other side of the story here is that there probably, and I would say 95% probably, isn't very much that goes on in SIGINT that your ace hacker at DefCon or SchmooCon et al hasn't already figured out. And we also have a critical mass of people who understand very well what can and what cannot be done with data mining and all that other stuff. And to counter the paranoia, you really have to deal with more paranoia - which is to say, the people who know best what can be done hack and snoop wise, know it because they've done it themselves. And it just so happens that those people are not committing mass suicide. That's the thing about science. It works the same everywhere.
Brewster Kalhe, who first started archiving the whole of the Internet a decade ago has done the math. It would cost less than $30 million per year to build, staff and maintain the facility to capture all the phone traffic in America. NSA has got way way more than that. They can do all the video on the planet, plus satellite streams and military telemetry that most people don't even know exists. How much do you want to bet that the American intelligence establishment never wants to make a mistake about stockpiles of chemical weapons again? How much do you want to bet that they knew what was going on at Benghazi?
Which interestingly brings us back to the matter of policy and judgment. The American public can and will be deceived, and they can and will be duped by politicians who will claim to have superior moral judgment. Everybody wants only their hands on the ring of power. But who is going to decide that? Americans.
From the same pool of people who created the beast will be those who decide how long its leash shall be. Not the Chinese. Not the Koreans. Not the British or the French or the Canadians or anybody else we have decided to share the spoils of digital war. It is now and forever shall be Us vs Them. We can only hope for a better Us.
Snowden's simple challenge requires only a change of complexion, a change of policy, a new CC on the email distibution list of NSA power. But it will not destroy the beast. It's still our beast. Snowden's deeper challenge requires that the US not be the power that decides US power, and for that he's a bit late. The Cold War is over.
Unless he thinks he knows something about China that Washington doesn't already know.
As Cobb readers know, sometime around 7 years ago, I realized some awful things about the American electorate the fundamental nature of which can be described as lazy. I also recognized that when intelligent collaboration fails, human beings almost instantly and unconsciously revert to hierarchy. In this I predicted that Barack Obama because of the nature of his campaign and the character he displayed, would be subject to the great temptation of fascism. Which is to say more plainly that he is an opportunist who skillfully and with luck on his side managed to sell a shallow set of opportunities for intelligent collaboration as a candidate. The lazy American electorate purchased that dog food and soon after reverted to hierarchy. Obama has taken those opportunties as well. In this season, the press has come the constellation of his small treacheries. I saw its shape all along.
My most deeply held concern about the Obama Presidency has been and continues to be his naive, reactionary and rudderless foreign policy. I fully expect that his legacy will be that he was the American President who let Iran have nuclear weapons. Despite the bold and brave Stuxnet worm I'm sure his administration had a hand in, Obama's boldness is covert. He cannot hold his head high in front of troops and does not recognize the necessity and honor of the force of arms, the salutory effect of a national military force - the true meaning of uniformed boots on the ground. It is a projection of force with which he has fundamental quarrels - I believe it frightens him and so he responds to the irrational fears projected by like-minded individuals in foreign countries and peaceniks at home.
In the news today is the sort of event which gets my attention because, in combination with the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombings it strikes me as evidence of a new sort of everyday savagery. After the professional terrorists have exhausted their most brilliant plans come the defiant ordinary butchers, all drinking from the same well of iniquity, the well of Islamist jihad the President dare not name, let alone poison. I am speaking, of course, about the machete attack on the British soldier in Woolwich. The broad daylight murder. The televised standoff in which red-handed killers were called 'suspects'.
Someone wisely said that Europe has lost its mind. It fears its own militarization because of what it did to itself during the 20th century. And so the pendulum of its willingness to be cowed in public has defied the gravity of its Islamist defiance. Barack Obama carries that kind of fear in his heart as well, as do others who fail to navigate the reality of honor in military discipline. When all violent action is undifferentiable to someone, they are happy to speak of their disgust of hatchet men in the streets, and are equally happy to send them off through civilian due processes as if all violence were the same type of crminality. In their simple-minded calculations, the random brutality of the one is only multiplied by the random brutality of the police, the national guard, the army. Better to suffer the indignity of Islamist wackjobs than the wackjobs in uniform - after all, real human beings just want to sleep and enjoy curious varieties of dress, meals and sex. So goes the thinking of the lazy many.
This makes life more difficult than it should be for the disciplined few for whom no pendulum operates our logic in support of the necessity of militant vigilance. But our efforts at intelligent collaboration have failed in the same democratic arena as the populist Obama's has succeeded, and so we fall too to hierarchy. It has taken me some time to see the measure of blind hero worship behind every teary salute, but that doesn't change the direction of my sentiment or of my thinking. It only makes me try, on occasions like today, to speak of the need for a leader capable of intelligent collaboration in support of boots on the ground.
I know such people exist who understand the limits of tolerance for that which seeks a barbaric undoing of our open society and civilized norms. That understanding comes from the simultaneous recognition of the value of liberty and the extremes to which it must often be defended. It comes not from fear, nor from dark vengeance, but for the necessity of protecting that which makes us civilized. It is not our unwillingness to employ violence which makes us civilized, but our unwillingness to be cowards. A nation so dedicated swears its citizens to oaths to this, and it is the dynamic life of that intelligent collaboration which keeps armies in uniform, in defense of liberty, in plain sight. A hierarchy of command that fears its own body will abuse itself in secret and send its dirty parts to do only dirty deeds. These are not the ways of proper leadership. These are the ways of fear and ignorance and such ways are always eventually revealed.
These are the events my friends. There is so little courage in our leadership that the tiny mobs are forming to fill the vacuum. The jihadi mobs are just the first. The now-quieted professionals whose masterminded schemes have been thwarted will again rise to direct them in due time. But by then they won't need masterful schemes..
I said this before and I'll say it again, and now I understand what when I said it before people didn't like me. The real solution to Israel vs Palestine is a one state solution. The two state solution is not a real solution because Palestine is destined to become a failed state.
It is obvious that poltically, the Palestinian people in Gaza desire for their elected(?) government representatives to initiate violent hostilities towards the state of Israel. It really doesn't matter who started it. It's started. It's war. Nothing more and nothing less. It's a small war, and on global the scale of things, it's a rather inconsequential war, notable only to the extent that bourgie Americans and Europeans indulge their bloodlust by proxy. The news:
(Reuters) - Two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip targeted Tel Aviv on Thursday in the first attack on Israel's commercial capital in 20 years, raising the stakes in a showdown between Israel and the Palestinians that is moving towards all-out war.
Earlier, a Hamas rocket killed three Israelis north of the Gaza Strip, drawing the first blood from Israel as the Palestinian death toll rose to 19, six of them children.
Israeli warplanes bombed targets in and around Gaza city for a second day, shaking tall buildings. In a sign of possible escalation, the armed forces spokesman said the military had received the green light to call in up to 30,000 reserve troops.
Plumes of smoke and dust furled into a sky laced with the vapor trails of outgoing rockets over the crowded city, where four young children killed on Wednesday were buried.
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said Palestinian militants would pay a price for firing the missiles.
So here is the problem of the 21C. If you launch rockets at the nation next door and you are really a proto-nation, how should the problem be resolved? I say it should be done in national terms. Which basically means somebody is going to have to say that Palestine is a nation and then the war can be a normal war.
Here's the paradox. A one state solution is the only way in which Palestinians can get civil rights in an actually civilized nation, but to have all those annexed people running around Israel means domestic violence via rocketry - the very kind that makes a joke of civil rights because of the requirements of homeland security. A two state solution is essentially what you have when there is a state of hostilities involving two governmental authorities shelling each other's population.
So I'm saying that right now, a two state solution exists with one of them being a failed state, so failed that even the UN doesn't actually recognize them as a state. So there will be no peace the problem is solved. How is it solved? With war.
Sooner or later the world is going to have to accept that this is war. And sooner or later Israel is going to have to pursue the war as if it is a war. I don't see exactly if they have an economic reason not to. So here's the final question. Considering that there are 3.5 odd million Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, what kind of refugee problem is Israel willing to face?
Just because I thought you might want to know, I think David Petraeus is way too smart and far too disciplined to crumble under a certain kind of political pressure. And I further think that at some point he would be duty bound to say what he knew and when about various matters that would make an ex-President look foolish, but would irreparably damage a sitting President. So instead of damaging a sitting President, he found a convincing sword upon which to fall.
I'll have to remember that trick. it's really quite simple. Hell, all he needed to do was go to South America with the Secret Service...
Now. Where do I go if I'm David Petraeus?
Obama 2012 Pakistan strikes
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The events detailed here have been reported by US or Pakistani government, military and intelligence officials, and by credible media, academic and other sources in 2012.
For the 2011 Pakistan drone strike database click here and for the 2010 data click here . A database incorporating all 2009 drone strikes in Pakistan after President Obama’s inauguration is here . For the database encompassing the President Bush strikes, from 2004 to 2009, click here .
c. January 4th 2012
♦ 0 total killed
The first hoped-for US strike of 2012 did not happen, according to the Washington Post, following a veto by Pakistan , with the two countries still locked in negotiations over new terms for CIA drone attacks:
In a rare display of deference early this month, the CIA informed the Pakistani government that it planned a drone strike against a terrorist target in the North Waziristan tribal region and asked Islamabad’s permission. When Pakistan declined, the strike was canceled, officials said.
Ob257 – January 10 2012
♦ 1-4 total killed
♦ 2 injured (woman and child)
The longest pause of the Obama drone war in Pakistan (55 days) came to an abrupt end when in a late evening attack two missiles destroyed a mudbrick house just outside Miranshah. Up to four alleged militants were reported killed, with Reuters initially citing Pakistani officials as saying the victims were ‘foreign fighters of Arab and possibly also Uzbek extraction.’ Qasim Noor, a student who witnessed the attack, told Associated Press : ‘ It was an unusually big bang. Since it was extremely cold I didn’t leave the house, but could see a house on fire. In the morning, we saw a modest mud house had been destroyed.’ Ten days after the strike Reuters reported that the attack killed Aslam Awan aka Abdullah Khorasani, who it described as a Pakistan-born senior external operations operative for al Qaeda . Pakistan’s The News reported that a Saudi national may also have died. According to a local tribesman:
A guest from the holy land (Saudi Arabia) living in a ramshackle house was killed on the spot but his wife and a son staying in the same room survived’.
The attack led to a number of protests in Pakistan. On February 22 Reuters reported that US Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all spoke with senior Pakistani officials just prior to the attack to let them know the campaign would be resuming. The News later claimed that according to its sources in the security establishment this strike – and one on February 9 2012 – ‘was carried out on a tip off provided by the Pakistani intelligence community.’
Location: Miranshah, North Waziristan
References: Associated Press , Express Tribune , Xinhua , Daily Telegraph ,MSNBC , CNN , BBC , The Bureau , Reuters , Los Angeles Times , Washington Post , Voice of America , Dawn , The News , McClatchy, Reuters , Express Tribune , New York Times , Reuters , The News , The News
Ob258 – January 12 2012
♦ 5-9 total killed
♦ 2-3 injured
Up to nine militants, mostly Turkmeni, were killed in a US strike on two vehicles in Dogga, 18 miles west of Miranshah. Reuters reported a Pakistani intelligence source as saying: ”The missiles hit two cars that were heading towards the border. Several foreigners were in the cars, but we have no information on their nationalities yet.’ The News reported that those killed
Were sitting in their vehicles after performing their Maghrib prayers when they came under attack. They said the double cabin pick-up vehicle caught fire and four men were killed on the spot. Their badly mutilated bodies were pulled out of the destroyed vehicle later. Another person, villagers said, was killed in the car. His body was mutilated and beyond recognition. There was no way to ascertain the identity of the slain men.’
Reports for a while claimed that Pakistan Taliban (TTP) leader Hakimullah Mehsud may have been killed in the attack , based on radio intercepts. The TTP denied the claim.
Location: Dogga near Datta Khel, North Waziristan
References: Dawn , IRNA , BBC , Pakistan Today , Reuters , Voice of America ,The Nation , CNN , AFP , Express Tribune , The News , Fox News , The Nation ,Press Trust of India , McClatchy , The News , ABC News Radio , Dawn , Asia Times , The News
Ob259 – January 23 2012
♦ 4-5 total killed
♦ 1 injured
Up to four alleged Turkmeni militants – possibly allied to al Qaeda, according to Reuters – were reported killed in a morning strike on a vehicle in North Waziristan. The vehicle was en route from Degan to Datta Khel and according to the BBC ‘was engulfed by fire after the missile strike. A nearby house was also damaged.’ A related attack on a house may have taken place in the nearby village of Mohammad Khel.
Ob259c – January 23 2012
♦ 0-2 total killed
Two missiles may also have struck a house in Mohammad Khel. CNN reported local intelligence officials as saying that nobody was killed in the attack, although The News reported local tribesmen as saying that two people died. This attack may be confused with Ob259 – awaiting clarification.
Ob259ci – February 1 2012
♦ 13-20 total killed
There were clashing reports as to the source of an early morning attack on four Pakistan Taliban (TTP) compounds in Orukzai Agency. Dawn reported that the strike was carried out by the Pakistan Air Force – and that a TTP commander may have been killed. Earlier there had been some speculation as to whether US drones were involved .
Ob260 – February 8 2012
♦ 9-10 total killed
♦ 2-12 injured
Ten alleged militants were killed in an early morning attack on a house near Miranshah, North Waziristan. One anonymous Pakistani official reported: ‘The locals have pulled out nine bodies and around a dozen injured from the rubble of demolished house.’ ‘There was wide speculation about the victims. One source claimed that those killed were part of a group run by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a local militant commander. A second reported that the Haqqani Network may have been targeted. Other Pakistan intelligence sources suggested that some of the targets were ‘from central Asia’, or from the Punjab . It was the first confirmed CIA drone strike in more than two weeks.
Ob261 – February 9 2012
♦ 5-8 total killed
♦ 0-2 civilians reported killed, including 1 child
♦ 3 injured
Badar Mansoor, the commander of a Pakistan Taliban faction with strong links to al Qaeda, was among at least five people killed in a 4am attack by the CIA in Miranshah, North Waziristan, the second US strike in 24 hours. AFP named the other dead as Qari Fayaz, Maulvi Faisal Khurasani, Qari Mushtaq and Yasir Khurasani. There was confusion about whether civilians had also died or were only injured in the strike. Reuters cited a Pakistan Taliban commander as saying that Mansoor’s family died alongside him .
He was living in a small rented house with his wife and children in Miranshah. He, his wife and two other members of his family died on the spot.
Other sources stated either that one wife was killed, one wife and one child, or that one or both wives were injured in the attack, ‘possibly the wife and daughter of Mansoor.’ Badar Mansoor (aka Fakher Zaman) took over the local leadership of Al Qaeda after the death in a drone strike of Ilyas Kashmiri in summer 2011. AFP reported Pakistani intelligence officials as saying ‘Mansoor was responsible for attacks in Karachi and on the minority Ahmadi community that killed nearly 100 people in the eastern city of Lahore in May 2010.’ Officials told Reuters that ‘the death toll could rise because of damage to buildings next to the one targeted by the drone.’
Three policemen were murdered in Peshawar on February 24 by militants calling themselves the Sheikh Abdullah Azaam Brigade. Six other officers were wounded in the triple suicide bombing of a police station, which the Brigade said ‘was to avenge the killing of Badr Munir in a drone attack. The group warned that there would be more such attacks,’ according to The Nation.
On March 8 Al Qaeda’s media wing released a nine minute eulogy for Mansoor,claiming that :
America is now more eagerly attacking the Pakistani government’s targets. The drone program is being run with the full consent, permission and cooperation of the Pakistani government.
The News later claimed that according to its sources in the security establishment this strike – and one on January 10 2012 – ‘was carried out on a tip off provided by the Pakistani intelligence community.’
Location: Miranshah, North Waziristan:
References: AFP , ABC News , Reuters , Associated Press , AFP , Reuters , Fox News , Associated Press , CNN , BBC , New York Times , MSNBC, McClatchy ,AFP , The Nation , The News (Pakistan) , Central Asia Online , Dawn (AP) , The News
Ob262 – February 16 2012
♦ 6 total killed
♦ 4-7 injured
An early morning strike on a house in Spalga, near Miranshah, killed six alleged militants. Four were seriously injured. At least three Pakistani security officials in the area confirmed the attack, which a number of reports claimed was against the Haqqani Network. The strike came five days after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told Al Jazeera :
I want to inform you that we did not allow or give permission to fly drones from Pakistan. Drones are counter productive and we have discussed it thoroughly with the US administration.
Location: Spalga near Miranshah, North Waziristan
References:Express Tribune , AFP , Press Trust of India , Radio Free Europe , The Nation (Pakistan) , Associated Press , Al Jazeera , CNN , PTI , Washington Post, AAP , Voice of America , BBC , Time , Dawn , Express Tribune , Daily Times ,The News , Frontier Post
Ob263 – February 16 2012
♦ 10-15 total killed
♦ Unknown injured
In the second drone strike of the day up to 15 alleged militants died in an attack on a pick-up truck in Mir Ali. A number of reports referred to the dead as ‘Uzbek Islamists.’ According to a Pakistani security official ‘the vehicle caught fire and the dead bodies are badly mutilated.’ Four drones were reported to take taken part, according to villagers. One told The News: ‘No one could risk his life to get close to the destroyed vehicle and retrieve bodies of the slain people due to fear of the drones which were still flying over the area even after the attack.’
Ob263a – February 25 2012
♦ 0 killed
The News reported that Pakistani troops searching for the wreckage of a crashed US drone narrowly missed injury when a missile was fired from a circling drone. A senior local official told the paper:
We were looking for the wreckage of the drone in Machikhel village, Mir Ali, and were almost close to the debris of the destroyed aircraft when one of the drones flying over the area fired a missile and hit two missiles lying on the ground. It would have caused heavy losses to security forces and others engaged in the search operation. They were lucky to survive.
The US drone had crashed earlier that day, with the Taliban claiming it had shot the UAV down. Militants allied to Hafiz Gul Bahadur told Reuters: ‘The drone today in Machikhel was flying at low altitude and our fighters fired at and shot it down. We have trained people for such type of job. We got hold of half of the wreckage and were looking for the remaining parts when the Pakistan army troops arrived there and then we decided to leave. The troops fired heavy search lights and are looking for wreckage of the drone.’ A US official denied that the drone had been shot down.
A drone fired two missiles on a vehicle. At least eight militants were killed. It is not immediately clear if some important target was hit in the missile strike.’
The News reported that those killed wereallied to the Pakistan Taliban (TTP) and as well as ‘local Mehsud’ may have included ‘some foreign militants.’ Der Spiegel later reported that the morning strike killed Samir H, 29, a German citizen. At least one of three missiles hit the vehicle, a pick-up truck, killing Samir and 11 others, the magazine continued. The attack that killed Samir occurred on the same day that Islamabad announced the imminent replacement of controversial spy chief General Ahmad Shuja Pasha. Pasha, who had run the ISI for four years, was to be replaced by Lt. General Zaheerul Islam the following week.
Born in west German city of Aachen to a German convert mother and a Tunisian father, Samir left Germany for Pakistan in October 2009. He traveled first to Iran then Pakistan, accompanied by his wife, a German of Tunisian descent, his son Hamsa and his daughter Shaima. Der Spiegel reported German investigators believed Samir to be one of the most dangerous Islamists in the country. The magazine cited a 2010 video posted by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in which he refers to himself as Abu Laith. His sister Soumaia left for Waziristan in 2010 where she is believed to remain. Der Spiegel reported this strike had the potential to reignite the debate in Germany on the legality of the drones by the US and could increase diplomatic tensions between the two countries.
Ob264a – March 9 2012
♦ 0-6 killed
Two sources reported a second strike. The first reportedly hit a vehicle, killing up to 15 militants. The second strike was said to have hit a house 12 kilometres away, killing ‘six Uzbeks.’
Ob265 – March 13 2012
♦ 6-8 reported killed
♦ 2-4 injured
Two senior commanders of a Taliban faction were among up to eight people killed in a CIA strike on South Waziristan. The men – part of a group commanded by Maulvi Nazir – died in an attack on their vehicle. An eyewitness identified one of the commanders as Amir Hamza Toji Khel - described as ‘a prominent member of the newly established council of the militants namely Shura Muraqiba’. The shura was reportdely formed in late December 2011 ‘to sort out differences among militant groups and stop killing of local tribesmen by terming them “spies”.’ The other commander was named as Shamsullah, reported to be an assistant to Maulvi Nazir himself. Two other deceased militants were named as Wajahat and Abdullah. Although Nazir’s group fights in the insurgency in Afghanistan, it has maintained a six year ceasefire with Pakistan’s forces inside Waziristan, making it highly unlikely that Islamabad would have endorsed the strike.
Ob266 – March 13 2012
♦ 7 reported killed
♦ 3 injured
A strike was reported on another vehicle ‘some hours later’ in the borderlands of North and South Waziristan, killing seven militants. According to the Frontier Post ‘locals of the area said that a double cabin pick up was hit by missiles from drone planes which killed seven people burning down the pick-up to ashes. It was not known who were the killed ones.’ The News reported that the men were also part of Maulvi Nazir’s Taliban group.
Ob267 – March 30 2012
♦ 4 reported killed
♦ 3 injured
A house in the market area of Miranshah town was destroyed in a 3am attack, killing four alleged militants. According to AFP, the CIA strike also triggered a fire in the moneychangers’ market . The blast reportedly destroyed five shops including a bakery, three grocery shops and a telephone kiosk. Eyewitness Yousuf Khan described the attack and aftermath: ‘I was sleeping in my home when a deafening sound woke me up. Fearing that my house has been attacked, I peeped out of my window and saw flames raging from the building facing my house. Two men holding Kalashnikov rifles warned me to go inside. I shut the window and went to sleep.” There were competing claims as to the identity of the victims. AP cited intelligence officials saying that those killed and injuredwere Uzbeks ; Reuters reported that they were local Taliban ; and agency AGIclaimed they were ‘Arabs.’ MSNBC later aired footage of the aftermath of the attack , showing that it took place in a built-up market area of the town.
MSNBC airs footage of the strike
The drone strike came at a highly sensitive time, with a recent Parliamentary Committee on National Security report to Islamabad’s parliament calling for an end to all US drone strikes in Pakistan, and during high-level negotiationsbetween the US and Pakistan on possible new rules, said to include limiting the type of strikes, and informing Pakistan in advance. A senior unnamed US officialvoiced rare internal criticisms of the US programme telling CNN that the White House was making a serious mistake by putting the options on the table for the Pakistanis to seize.
The big mistake was the administration – I did try to warn them – that once you put it on the table, it will only get worse. Sure enough, once they put it on the table, (Pakistan) grabbed it, and they’ve run with it and now it’s the centerpiece of their negotiations.”
The senior official also voiced criticisms of CIA Director David Petraeus: ‘The director and I have had serious go-rounds about this particular issue before he did it, and he did it anyway. And now I think we’re paying the price.”
Ob268 – April 29 2012
♦ 3-6 reported killed
♦ 2-3 injured
Despite ongoing negotiations between the US and Pakistan – and a unanimous vote by Pakistan’s parliament to end the drone strikes – the CIA ended a 29-day pause by bombing an ex-girls’ school in Miranshah and killing up to six alleged militants – among them the leader of an Uzbek militant group. The school was reportedly engulfed in flames. Locals described four drones flying over the town prior to the attack. Pakistan strongly condemned the strike , describing it as ‘in total contravention of international law and established norms of interstate relations.’ At the same time US counter-terrorism chief John Brennan went on American TV to claim that ‘Sometimes you have to take life to save lives.’
We intercepted internal conversation of the militants asking for arranging four coffins for the slain men in the drone attack. We don’t know about their identity and nationality but those living in the girls’ school were mostly Arabs.
However Associated Press reported another official as saying the victims may have been ‘Uzbek or Tajik militants.’ Dawn reported that the target was ‘Punjab Taliban . And an anonymous US official later said that the school was a “staging and planning area for Al Qaeda, the Haqqanis and other terrorists.’ In August 2012 the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan reported on its Furqon website that its leader, Uthman/ Usman Atil, had died in the attack . Atil had replaced previous IMU leader Tahir Yuldashev, also killed by a drone.
Location: Miranshah, North Waziristan
References: Reuters , Associated Press , Al Jazeera , AFP , Punjab News , MSNBC, Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs , Los Angeles Times ,New York Times ,Express Tribune , Wall Street Journal , AP , NPR , Dawn , New York Times ,Furqon (Uzbek) , Long War Journal , The News , The News
Ob269 – May 5 2012
♦ 8-10 reported killed
♦ 1-3 injured
♦ 0-10 civilians reported killed
The CIA carried out its third drone strike during ongoing sensitive negotiations with Pakistan. Missiles hit an alleged militant training camp in the forested Shawal area, killing up to ten people. The Pakistan Observer reported local claims that the dead were ‘local tribesmen’ rather than militants. CNN reported the dead as members of the Pakistan Taliban according to Muhammad Amin, a senior government offiicial in the region. The Frontier Post reported that locals were afraid to assist in rescue work as up to four drones remained in the area after the attack. Pakistan’s government once again condemned the strike in strong terms , calling the attack ‘illegal’ and stating that
It is our considered view that the strategic disadvantages of such attacks far outweigh their tactical advantages, and are therefore, totally counter productive.
The attack came just days after chief US counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan said that the US would seek to respect other nations’ sovereignty in its drone strikes. Leon Panetta, US Defense Secretary, also confirmed that ‘the United States is going to defend itself under any circumstances.’
Location: Shawal, North Waziristan
References: AFP , MSNBC , Reuters , Associated Press , BBC , PTI , Frontier Post, The News , The Nation (Pakistan) , SANA , McClatchy , Dawn , Express Tribune, CNN , Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ob270 – May 23 2012
♦ 4-5 reported killed
♦ 2 injured
In the first recorded US drone strike in Pakistan in 18 days, up to five alleged militants were killed in a 2.40am strike on a house in Datta Khel, with ‘several’ injured. As many as five drones were reported over Miranshah at the time of the attack, suggesting a possible High Value Target may have been present. AFPreported residents as saying that the bodies of those killed had been charred badly, and that militants had cordoned off the area and were sifting through the rubble.
The strike came despite continuing Pakistani protests at the attacks, and an ongoing dispute with the United States about the resumption of the delivery of NATO supplies to Afghanistan through the country. At the NATO summit in Chicago, two days before the strike, President Obama told reporters : ‘I don’t want to paper over real challenges there. There’s no doubt that there have been tensions between [the NATO military coalition] and Pakistan, the United States and Pakistan over the last several months.’
Location: Datta Khel Kalai near Miranshah, North Waziristan
References: Xinhua , Los Angeles Times , Associated Press , AFP , BBC , CNN ,GeoTV , Christian Science Monitor , Deccan Herald , Express Tribune , The News
Ob271 – May 24 2012
♦ 10-12 reported killed
♦ 3 injured
♦ 3-10 civilians reported killed
The CIA’s drones returned to the attack for the second time in 24 hours, killing up to a dozen people, only some of whom appear to have been alleged militants. A house and a nearby mosque were hit as villagers attended morning prayers, and between three and eight civilians died. It is not clear which building was the primary target. Associated Press’ sources said that ‘most of those killed wereUzbek insurgents ‘ and said the attack targeted a ‘militant hideout’; researchers at Stanford University and New York University noted that an Associated Press report filed four days later referred to the strike but still did not mentionmultiple reports that a mosque had been hit. But AFP reported at least three civilians died when the mosque was struck during morning prayers. A security official told the news agency that three worshippers, believed to be Central Asians, ‘were seriously wounded and died later in the hospital.’ Channel 4 News said that most of the dead were local villagers , with four of 12 killed being ‘foreign fighters, believed to be Turkmen.’ KUNA reported tribal elders as saying that all of those killed were ‘innocent local tribesmen.’ Villager Mohammad Roshan Dawar later told The News :
Some of the people had offered the prayers and were leaving the mosque. Others were still praying and some were reciting the Holy Quran, when the drone fired two missiles and struck the mosque. The small structure of the mosque was demolished in the attack and those present inside were buried under the debris of the building.
The wounded were reportedly taken to Miranshah Agency Headquarters Hospital, where an anonymous doctor complained that the injured ‘were brought to us in a serious condition and had suffered multiple injuries. Also, we do not have any facility here in the hospital to save lives of seriously injured patients. Let alone other facilities, the only X-ray machine at the hospital is also out of order.’
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters that ‘We strongly condemn the drone attacks. We regard them a violation of our territorial integrity. They are in contravention of international law. They are illegal, counter-productive and totally unacceptable.’ He added that ‘matters related to NATO supply [and] drone attacks are under discussion with the US, and that ‘Pakistan wants to solve the matter of drones with the US through negotiation rather to move UN Security Council or the International Court of Justice.’ The strike occurred on the same day that Amnesty International issued its annual report, in which it again raised concerns that US covert drone strikes ‘appear to have amounted to extrajudicial executions.’
Location: Khassokhel near Mir Ali, North Waziristan
References: Dawn , Reuters , KUNA , Pakistan Today , Associated Press ,Associated Press , AFP , BBC , CBS , The Nation (Pakistan) , MSNBC , Channel 4 News , Amnesty International, SANA , SANA , The News (Pakistan) , Dawn ,Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs , Living Under Drones
Ob272 – May 26 2012
♦ 3-4 reported killed
♦ 2 injured
Drone strikes returned to levels not seen in Pakistan since autumn 2011, as the CIA attacked for the third time in a week. Four alleged militants died in a 4.30am attack when a bakery was struck in Miranshah bazaar, North Waziristan. According to Associated Press the victims – all ‘foreigners’ or ‘Arabs’ – werebuying bread when the shop was bombed, marking a rare deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure. Other agencies reported that a house was struck., or that the target was an apartment above the bakery . All reported that the building was destroyed. BBC reporter Ahmed Wali Majeeb was staying just 500m from the attack site when the missiles struck. He later wrote:
It’s 04:15 in the morning when the blast wakes me. Just as someone next to me says it’s the sound of a missile being fired there is an angry whizzing noise overhead and then an explosion. The gap between the missile being launched and hitting its target is just a few seconds. People run out of their homes into the street in fear. Some are rushing to the spot to see who has been hit. A room on top of a bakery in the centre of the market has been destroyed. Some local people and Taliban are clearing the rubble. They say three people have been killed. A few minutes later, the Taliban and locals are able to sift through the rubble and dig up the dead and injured. These are quickly taken away from the site of the attack and no-one is willing to say who they are. When I try to speak to people and militants later, everybody gives a different answer. It seems that no-one is sure who has been killed, but before long I hear on the radio that a senior al-Qaeda leader – Abu Hafs al-Misri – is among the dead. In the aftermath of this attack, I speak to local shopkeepers. One is very angry. He says the attacks have destroyed the lives and livelihood of the local population.
Al-Misri had previously been reported killed in autumn 2010.
Ob273 – May 28 2012
♦ 5-10 reported killed
♦ 4 injured
CIA drones returned to the attack in North Waziristan for the fourth time in six days, with a double strike on the village of Khassokhel, 25km east of Miranshah. Up to ten people were killed in the bombing of a house under construction, reportedly owned by Balbal Khan. The first strike came at around 12.20m local time, with some local media reporting that five drones were hovering over the target area. Officials claimed that most of those killed were foreigners , but could not confirm their nationality. A Pakistani security official said the area ‘was known for harbouring Uzbek, Arab and other foreign militants.’ Drones returned to attack the house again some 30 minutes later. It was not known initially if this marked a return to the deliberate targeting of rescuers at the scene, a tactic first uncovered by the Bureau.
CBS News later reported that Al Qaeda commander Yahya al-Libi was the target of the attack, but that he had escaped with injuries. Al-Libi was killed June 4.
Location: Khassokhel near Mir Ali, North Waziristan
References:Xinhua , BBC , AFP , Express Tribune , Sky News (Australia) , The Nation (Pakistan) , Associated Press, Khaama Press , Voice of Russia Radio , RTT News , ANI , IANS , Dawn , Express Tribune , Washington Post , Pakistan Observer , CBS News , The News , The News
Ob274 – May 28 2012
♦ 2-5 reported killed
A second missile attack destroyed a vehicle in Datta Khel, 30km west of Miranshah. Up to five alleged militants died. A security official told AFP that ‘The drone fired two missiles on a vehicle. The vehicle caught fire and the bodies of the people inside were badly burnt.’ Another official reported that the deceased were ‘two foreigners and their local driver.’ The News reported a villager as saying that ‘a nearby house was also damaged in the attack, but its inmates remained safe.’
Ob275 – June 2 2012
♦ 2-4 reported killed
♦ 0-2 civilian killed
In the first reported CIA action in South Waziristan since March 13, up to four people were reported killed in a strike targeting a vehicle in Khawashi Khel, 5km to the east of Wana. Security officials told AFP that alleged militants had been moving from one area to another near the Afghan border, and that ‘the US drone fired two missiles which completely destroyed the vehicle.’ Two local militant leaders were reported killed, both members of Maulvi Nazir’s Taliban-aligned faction. The men were identified as Khalil Yargul Khail and Rehmanullah Gangi Khail by the Express Tribune : ‘According to security officials, Rehmanullah Gangi Khail was the brother of Muhammad Wali, a local commander of the Mullah Nazir Group.’ Although most agencies reported that either an unspecified ‘vehicle’ or motorbike was the target of the strike, Dawn reported that a motorbike was accidentally hit , suggesting possible civilian casualties.
Location: Khawashi Khel, Wana, South Waziristan
References: The Nation (Pakistan) , CNN , Radio Free Europe , AFP , GeoTV ,Dawn , The News (Pakistan) , Associated Press , IRNA , Express Tribune , The News (Pakistan) ,
Ob275c – June 2 2012
♦ 3-4 reported killed
One agency reported a second drone attack of the day, on a house in the Ghowa Khowa area close to Wana. Four people were reported killed.
Ob276 – June 3 2012
♦ 7-10 reported killed
♦ 7-10 injured
♦ Possible civilian casualties
An attack on funeral prayers held with the family of a Taliban commander killed the day before killed up to ten people. US drones struck a house in Mana Raghzai as people gathered for funeral prayers for Rehmanullah Gangi Khail and the brother of local commander Malang. Local officials told the Express Tribune
The militants had gathered for condolence of commander Malang’s brother Rehmanullah, who was killed in a US drone strike earlier on Saturday.Commanders Malang and Gulam Khan were seriously injured in the attack.
Although there were reports that both commanders had died, the New York Times later quoted a Wana government official as saying that both men livedand were ‘stable’. Two others killed were described as ‘foreigners’. Local people took part in the rescue operation. A nearby vehicle was also destroyed in a related strike, killing five and injuring others.
Location: Mana Raghzai near Wana, South Waziristan
References: Kuna , Daily Mail , Express Tribune , CNN , Reuters , The News (Pakistan) , The Nation (Pakistan) , The Guardian , AFP , Al Jazeera , Associated Press , Dawn , Sky News , New York Times , The News (Pakistan)
His death is part of the degradation that has been taking place to core al-Qaida during the past several years and that degradation has depleted the ranks to such an extent that there’s no clear successor.
One anonymous US official claimed that only five people died in the strike, another that only al-Libi died . However most sources reported between 14 and 18 deaths, including al-Libi’s driver and bodyguard. According to the BBC, the CIA attacked militants attending the scene of an initial strike. Up to six drones participated in the attack. In September 2012, Associated Press reported two US intelligence officials as saying that a Saudi man named Najam had lost both legs in a drone strike ‘at about the same time as al-Libi died.’ According to the anonymous officials:
Najam, who came from an affluent family, was able to reach an agreement with the Saudi government to return to his wife and children. Intelligence suggests that Najam’s treatment has encouraged other militants to seek similar deals, switch to other battlefields or seek leniency from their governments.
The intensity of the US campaign led to claims by some that the US was carrying out punitive strikes. Islamabad called in the US charge d’affaires Richard Hoagland to formally complain about the strikes. He was told that ‘drone strikes represented a clear red-line for Pakistan.’ The Islamabad-based Conflict Monitoring Center, in its monthly report , accused the US of going on a ‘rampage’ in ‘a bid to punish Pakistan for the conviction of Dr. Afridi as well as its reluctance to reopen NATO supply routes.’ The CMC noted that prior to the NATO summit and Afridi’s conviction, only one US strike had taken place in May. Afterwards there were five, mainly aimed at ‘Taliban groups who are in a peace agreement with Pakistani authorities.’ An anonymous senior US official rejected this, claiming that the jump in CIA strikes was simply down to the weather. He told the New York Times that ‘Until now the area was socked in by a long stationary front with cloud cover.’
Less than a week after the strike messages were posted on al Qaeda websitessuggesting that al-Libi remained alive. The terrorist group also posted a video of al-Libi discussing recent events in Libya, with no references to his reported killing. However on the anniversary of 9/11 al Qaeda’s leader Ayman al Zawahirifinally confirmed al-Libi’s death.
Location: Hesokhel near Mir Ali, North Waziristan
References: The News (Pakistan) , The Nation (Pakistan) , Reuters , AGI , PTI ,New York Times , Conflict Monitoring Center , Associated Press , MSNBC ,IRNA , CNN , The Guardian , Reuters , BBC , ABC News, Reuters , Washington Post , Reuters , The Guardian , CNN , CBS , Al Arabiya , New York Times ,Washington Post , AFP , AFP , Los Angeles Times , The News , Associated Press, AFP
Ob278 – June 13 2012
♦ 4 killed
Four alleged militants were killed in the first strike for nine days. Initial estimates put the casualty figure at three but AFP reported this was subsequently updated by an anonymous Pakistani official. The men were traveling in a vehicle in the evening when multiple missiles were fired from a US drone. The strike came 10km east of Mirahshah in the village of Isha. Witnesses said the vehicle immediately caught fire when finally hit, adding that several drones had been seen circling the area that day.
The strike came amid continued strained relations between Islamabad and Washington. Two days previously the US announced it was withdrawing its negotiators who had spent six weeks trying to reach a deal with Pakistan to reopen supply routes through the country. Closing the border to NATO supplies bound for Afghanistan had forced the US to reroute the convoys through central Asia. This was costing the US $100 million a month, reported the Washington Post . Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar also urged a visiting delegation of US Congressmen to end the drone strikes.
Location: Isha near Miranshah, North Waziristan
References: AFP , Trend.AZ (DPA) , ABC , NewsPakistan , INP , The Express Tribune , Xinhua , The News , The Hindu , Xinhua , Outlook India , The News Tribe, Radio Free Europe , Reuters , Washington Post , Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ob279 – June 14 2012
♦ 3-4 killed
Three to four alleged militants were killed in an early morning CIA drone strike in Miranshah bazaar. Two missiles were fired on a shop or house, hitting the first floor according to a senior official . For the third time in recent weeks there were indications that the CIA had used a ‘follow-up strike’ tactic first exposed by the Bureau in February 2012. A tribesman who requested anonymity told AFP:
When the first missile hit the building, I heard cries for help and ran towards it, but militants stopped me at a distance. When they started rescue work, another missile hit.
A local journalist said the strike came at 3.30am, with witnesses reporting that two drones took part. One fired the missiles, with the second hovering over the area. As many as five drones reportedly remained over the area following the strike, indicating the possible presence of a High Value Target.
Ob280 – June 26 2012
♦ 4-6 killed
♦ 2-7 injured
CIA attacks resumed after a 12 day pause, when missiles struck a house in Shawal in North Waziristan late in the evening, killing up to six people. Local officials told AFP that the target was militants linked to Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a leader involved in the Afghan insurgency but with a peace agreement with Pakistan.The attack came the day before Pakistan’s top military commander, General Kayani, was due to hold talks with General John Allen, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, to discuss ways to improve relations. As Pakistan’s The News noted: ‘This was the first attack by the CIA-operated pilotless planes in North Waziristan after the local Taliban, led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, banned the anti-polio immunisation campaign in the tribal region as a mark of protest against the US drone strikes.’
Ob281 – July 1 2012
♦ 6-8 killed
♦ 2-3 injured
US drones struck a house in the Shawal area at around 7am, killing up to eight people. A local security official told agency AFP: ‘Two missiles targeted the compound, killing six militants.’ A second official reported that ‘the strike destroyed the house and triggered a fire. It was difficult to identify the bodies immediately as some of them were charred.’ It was reported that some of those killed were linked to Hafiz Gul Bahadur, the target of other recent CIA strikes, with others from the Turkmenistan Islamic Movement.
Ob282 – July 6 2012
♦ 17-24 killed
♦ 0-3 civilians reported killed
♦ 2-6 injured
As many as 24 people were killed in a triple evening strike on a house in Datta Khel. The dead were said to include ‘foreigners,’ with AFP reporting : ‘The initial strike on a house killed nine, three others were killed in a second attack when they drove to the site to recover dead bodies, and a third drone killed another three five minutes later, a senior security official in Peshawar told the AFP news agency.’ Dawn also reported that three rescuers were killed , whom it described as ‘tribesmen.’ Some reported that those killed were linked to local militant leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur. The New York Times reported a local resident as saying that ‘the compound was owned by a Taliban commander namedRahimullah.’ However in August 2012 Time magazine quoted a US official as saying the strike was actually on ‘a truck packed with explosives heading across the border.’
It was a clear shot. We had to take it.
The official also said that the number killed was less than 20. This was the first CIA strike after Pakistan re-opened its border to Nato supply convoys, ending a seven month diplomatic stand-off. The standoff ended after US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton apologised on July 3 for US forces killing 23 Pakistani soldiers in November 2011. Negotiations over the future of the drone programme continued after Clinton’s apology. Pakistan’s leaders reportedly were pushing for more control of drone strike targeting .
But on July 5 the Foreign Office repeated Pakistan’s view that drone strikes are counter-productive and a violation of the country’s sovereignty. Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, Islamabad’s former High Commissioner to London, told Al Jazeera :
It can’t go against the will of the people and Pakistan is quite unanimous in rejecting the drone strikes on its territory. All the political parties, parliament and military have categorically condemned the strikes. We know that in the past there were all kinds of backdoor dealings - we are told we don’t know for sure - between Pakistan and the US which sort of winked and nudged and looked the other way while drone strikes would be conducted. Now those days have gone because the relationship between the two country is so brittle and tense. And anything smacking of backdoor dealings would really risk a reaction in the public against the government in Pakistan.’
Location: Datta Khel, North Waziristan
References: Express Tribune , The News Tribe, Saach , Associated Press , US State Department, Express Tribune , PTI , Associated Press , AFP . Xinhua ,Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs , MSNBC , Voice of America , PTI , Al Jazeera , AFP , The Nation (Pakistan) , Guardian , Reuters , New York Times ,CNN , ABC News , The News , Deutsche Welle , Dawn , Dawn , Time, The News
Ob283 – July 23 2012
♦ 11-14 killed
♦ 0-14 civilians reported killed
♦ 2 injured
Up to 14 people were killed in the first known US drone strike in 17 days. An unknown number of CIA drones struck at 9.20pm , firing up to eight missilesinto a housing compound alleged to belong to Sadiq Noor , a militant commander and ally of Hafiz Gul Bahadur. It was not clear if Noor was among the dead although Abdur Rauf, son of Abdul Karim, described as a militant, waslater buried in Dhoda village. After the attack ‘more than five US drones kept flying over the area, hampering the rescue work.’ This was the second strike of the month to hit the village of Dre Nishter. The News was the only source to report that civilians may have been among those killed – and that rescuers may have died in a follow-up strike:
Some reports said the drones first fired two missiles and hit a house in the valley and when other people gathered for rescue efforts almost half-an-hour later, the drones started firing missiles on them, killing most the rescuers. There was, however, no independent confirmation of this piece of information. About the victims, there were conflicting reports with some saying they included militants while tribal sources insisted all of them were local residents.
Location: Dre Nishter/Shawal, North Waziristan
References: Xinhua , AFP , Associated Press , Xinhua , Geo.TV , PTI , The News Tribe, Voice of America , Dawn , The Star , CNN , Reuters , IANS , Long War Journal , The Express Tribune , BBC , The News , CNN , BNO News , The Nation (Pakistan) , Dawn , PakTribune , Big News Network , RIA Novosti , The News
Ob284 – July 29 2012
♦ 4-7 killed
♦ 0-3 civilians reported killed
♦ 4 injured
The CIA’s drones returned to the attack in a Sunday strike on the village of Khushhali Turikhel in North Waziristan. Between four and seven people died, with six missiles fired at a house, according to AFP. One or two vehicles were also reported destroyed. However another source reported that ‘Uzbek militants’ were killed ‘visiting a spring for leisure .’ A large number of drones were said to have taken part, with SANA reporting that ‘six drones continued their flights in the area which created panic in the local residents.’ It was later reported that all of those killed were not Uzbeks but local people from Janikhel in Bannu, where they were buried. The News named three of the four it said were killed asAhmadullah, Asadullah and Hidayat Khan. Its reporters toldf the Bureau that they were unsure of the status of the deceased.
The attack took place hours after Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Sherry Rehman, again called for the US to halt drone strikes , saying that ‘We will seek an end to drone strikes and there will be no compromise on that… I am not saying drones have not assisted in the war against terror, but they have diminishing rate of returns.’
Location: Khushhali Turikhel, North Waziristan
References: AFP , Associated Press , Express Tribune , AFP , AAP , Associated Press , NBC News , SANA , PTI , The Nation , Dawn , The News , IANS , Xinhua, The News , The Nation
Ob285 – August 18 2012
♦ 5-12 killed
♦ 1 civilian reported killed
♦ 2-6 injured
A twenty day pause in the CIA’s campaign ended with a drone strike just after noon on Shuweda in North Waziristan. A house and car were reported damaged or destroyed and up to a dozen people, possibly ‘alleged militants’ – were killed. As AFP noted :
The attack came as people in the deeply religious region were celebrating the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, residents said. It was the third drone attack since the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
AP reported that those killed were allies of local Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a regular target of CIA drone strikes in connection with the insurgency in Afghanistan. ‘Uzbeks’ were said to be among the dead. Eid was declared early in Waziristan, and people appear to have been gathering for the festival. The News reported that ‘the CIA-operated drone fired four missiles. Two of them hit a house located in the forest-covered mountainous Shawal Valley while two others hit vehicles parked outside a residence where a group of men had gathered for lunch in connection with Eid.’ Among those killed were 43-year old Kashmiri militant ‘Engineer’ Ahsan Aziz and his wife (the daughter of Jamaat e Islami Azad Kashmr leader Aleefud Din Turabi), according to Aziz’s father .
The attack was almost immediately condemned by Islamabad . A statement from the Foreign Ministry said: Pakistan strongly protests the drone attacks in North Waziristan this morning. Pakistan has consistently maintained that these attacks are a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and are in contravention of international law.’
Location: Mammon Narai, Shuweda, North Waziristan
References: AFP , Associated Press , Frontier Post , CNN , AGI , Voice of America, Express Tribune , Long War Journal , News Tribe, Xinhua , Pajhwok , Al Akhbar, Dawn , The Hindu , The Examiner , The News , Pakistan Foreign Ministry , Al Jazeera , SANA , Reuters , PTI , International News Network , PTI , Long War Journal , The News , Daily Times
Ob286 – August 19 2012
♦ 4-7 killed
♦ 2-3 injured
Drones returned to the attack for the second time in 12 hours in the Shawal valley area, with a reported early morning strike on two vehicles near the Afghan border. The Express Tribune said that the vehicles were en route from Miranshah. AFP reported a Pakistani security official as saying: ‘US drones fired four missiles on two militant vehicles in the early hours of Sunday, killing four militants.’ However a second official told the agency that the identities of those killed was unknown. Other speculated that those killed were supporters of militant leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur.
Location: Mana, Shawal valley, North Waziristan
References: AFP , The News , AFP , Associated Press , AAP , Long War Journal ,Dawn , The News , The Nation , Reuters , Associated Press , PakTribune ,Pajhwok , Voice of America , Geo TV , Express Tribune , PTI
Ob287 – August 19 2012
♦ 2-3 killed
♦ 2 injured
It was reported that a further two or three people were killed when CIA drones returned to the attack at Mana. News agency AFP reported a Pakistani security official as saying:
At least two militants were killed and two others wounded when a US drone fired two missiles at the site of this morning’s attack where militants were removing the wreckage of their two destroyed vehicles.
However The News and AP reported that the strike was on a house.
Ob288 – August 21 2012
♦ 5-25 killed
♦ Civilians reported killed, including 1 child
♦ 2 injured
In the fourth US drone attack in as many days, the CIA bombed a house and a vehicle in Shana Kora village, 10 kilometers from Miranshah. Between 5 and 25 people were killed in the 7pm attack. It was soon reported that Badruddin Haqqani, son of the Haqqani leader and the network’s military commander,may have been killed . A ‘senior Taliban commander’ said Haqqani had died in the strike and Afghanistan’s intelligence agency also reported him dead . Two Pakistani intelligence officials said they were 90 percent sure he had been killed. But they conceded they had not spoken with anyone who had seen the body and Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid denied Haqqani’s death, saying he was alive in Afghanistan. US officials told the Washington Post August 29 that ‘We now believe he is dead.’ Additional reports said that other members of Haqqani’s family had died in the attack. Haqqani’s 13-year old son Osama wasreported by a number of source s to have been killed. A further report claimedthat
There are three fresh graves in the family graveyard of Haqqanis. However, the family is reluctant to arrange any death ceremonies amid persistent US drone flights in the area.’
Reuters among others reported that far more civilians had died in the strike, reporting one of its sources as saying ‘The drone fired two missiles on the house last Tuesday and killed 25 people, most of them members of the Haqqani family.’
Two days after the strike, Pakistan’s government again protested the strikes . An official release stated:
The US Embassy was today démarched on recent drone strikes in North Waziristan. A senior US diplomat was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and informed that the drone strikes were unlawful, against international law and a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. It was emphatically stated that such attacks were unacceptable.
Concern was later expressed that the death of such a senior member of the Haqqani family might impact upon negotiations for the release of a US Prisoner of War . Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, captured on June 30 2009, is thought to be held captive by the Haqqani network.
Location: Shnakhura, Datta Khel, North Waziristan
References: Express Tribune , AFP , The News , Associated Press , Xinhua , The Nation (Pakistan) , PTI , International Herald Tribune , Voice of Russia , Express Tribune , Dawn , Pakistan Foreign Ministry , Dawn , Xinhua , Reuters , PTI ,New York Times , Dawn , Reuters , Associated Press , The Guardian , Pak Tribune , Express Tribune , Al Jazeera English , The Nation (Pakistan) , Dawn ,Reuters , Reuters , Washington Post , WTOP FM
Ob289 – August 24 2012
♦ Overall killed in three strikes 13-18 killed
♦ 14 injured
♦ Reported killed Makai only: 6
The CIA brought to seven the number of attacks carried out in a week when it bombarded three villages in the Shawal valley with coordinated drone strikes that left up to 18 dead and a further 14 wounded. Five drones reportedly took part in the coordinated attacks, launching six missiles and ‘continued hovering over the area after the attacks’ . The strikes hit villages ‘several kilometers ‘ from each other with strikes that came ‘minutes apart ‘. The Long War Journal cited a US intelligence officia l as saying that repeated CIA strikes on the Shawal valley area had been targeting an ‘important jihadi leader.’ Across the border in Afghanistan on the same day, an airstrike also killed TTP commander Mullah Dadullah, commander of the Pakistan Taliban in Bajaur Agency.
At least six were killed in the village of Makai of Maki Ghar in a strike around11am or noon local time. Pakistani officials said the compounds were used by militants when crossing into Afghanistan. Tribal sources said the compounds belonged to local tribesmen and the dead included Punjabis and foreigners of Arab origin. AFP said the area hit ‘is an area used by militants belonging to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, the Afghan Taliban allied Haqqani network and the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group.’ A Bureau researcher, citing Pakistan intelligence and Taliban sources, named those killed in the first strike as:
Four Turkistanis named as Emeti Yakuf, aka Abdul Jabar; 35-36 year oldYaku Emeti aka Saleh; Tuersun Toheti aka Zabeh ullah; and Mukhtar. Additionally two Pakistan Taliban (TTP) militants died named as Karimand Matee ullah.
Dawn also reported that Emeti Yakuf had died, naming him as ‘Emir’ of the East Turkistan Movement.
Location: Makai/Maki Ghar, Shawal, North Waziristan
References: Dawn , Express Tribune , Xinhua , CNN , AFP , The News ,Associated Press , Xinhua , Reuters , Xinhua , The News Tribe, Associated Press, Reuters , PTI , KUNA , PakTribune , PTI , BBC , ANI , Xinhua , Radio Liberty ,The News , Al Jazeera , AFP , The Nation (Pakistan) , PTI , Voice Of America ,AAP , UK Press Association , Long War Journal , New York Times , Christian Science Monitor , CBS News , Dawn , The Nation (Pakistan) , Dawn , Pakistan Today
Ob290 – August 24 2012
♦ Reported killed Dara only: 4-6
In a second strike CIA drones hit another walled compound, killing at least four. A Bureau researcher, citing Pakistan intelligence and Taliban sources, said that ‘six militants’ were killed in this strike including local TTP commander Gil Aman.
The Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Ahmad Khan was giving apress conference as news of the strikes broke. ‘We regard these strikes as illegal and unproductive,’ he said, adding: ‘These attacks also violate our sovereignty, territorial integrity and are in contravention of international laws.’
Location: Dara, Shawal, North Waziristan
References: Dawn , Express Tribune , Xinhua , CNN , AFP , The News ,Associated Press , Xinhua , Reuters , Xinhua , The News Tribe, Associated Press, Reuters , PTI , KUNA , PakTribune , PTI , BBC , ANI , Xinhua , Radio Liberty ,The News , Al Jazeera , AFP , The Nation (Pakistan) , PTI , Voice Of America ,AAP , UK Press Association , Long War Journal , New York Times , SANA , The News , Christian Science Monitor , CBS News , The Nation (Pakistan)
Ob291 – August 24 2012
♦ Reported killed Dre Nishter only: 3-8
In the third coordinated strike at least three people were reported killed when drones targeted two vehicles in Dre Nisther. The drones reportedly fired five missiles at the vehicles in this strike.
Location: Dre Nisther, Shawal, North Waziristan
References: Dawn , Express Tribune , Xinhua , CNN , AFP , The News ,Associated Press , Xinhua , Reuters , Xinhua , The News Tribe, Associated Press, Reuters , PTI , KUNA , PakTribune , PTI , BBC , ANI , Xinhua , Radio Liberty ,The News , Al Jazeera , AFP , The Nation (Pakistan) , PTI , Voice Of America ,AAP , UK Press Association , Long War Journal , New York Times , Christian Science Monitor , CBS News , The Nation (Pakistan)
Ob292 – September 1 2012
♦ 4-6 reported killed
♦ 2-3 injured
After a week’s pause the CIA’s offensive in Waziristan continued. Attacks at 9am on a housing compound and a vehicle in Degan reportedly killed up to six people. The News noted :
Unconfirmed reports suggested that most of the militants slain in the attack were aligned with the group of Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who is head of the local Taliban in North Waziristan. There were also reports attributed to unnamed government officials that two out of the five men killed in the strike were foreigners. The remaining three were stated to be local militants.
Ob293 – September 21 2012
♦ 3-4 killed
♦ 0-3 civilians reported killed
♦ 2-3 reported injured
CIA drones reportedly returned to the attack in North Waziristan. A car was destroyed near Datta Khel by two to three missiles and three or four alleged militants, possibly linked to Hafiz Gul Bahadur, were killed. The News reportedthat ‘Witnesses said that drones continued hovering over the area even after the strike that triggered fear among the residents.’ While security sources said militants were killed, local residents told Pakistan Observer the dead were ‘ordinary tribesmen’ and ‘nothing to do with the militancy’. A second vehicle was reportedly damaged in the strike as it passed the target car.
The attack came at a precipitous time in Pakistan. It was launched after a 20 day pause, possibly driven by global Islamic unrest over a blasphemous video produced in the United States. Up to 17 Pakistanis had died in protests against the film the previous day. AP noted : ‘The latest attack comes despite Pakistani demands to halt the missile strikes. It also comes at a time when Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar is visiting Washington to discuss a range of issues, including how to resolve differences over US drone attacks in Pakistan.’ The strike hit North Waziristan Agency as the Pakistani military and civilian politicians debated an assault on militant positions in the tribal agency.
Location: Mohammed Khel/ Datta Khel, North Waziristan
References: AFP , IANS , AGI , The News , Express Tribune , Deutsche Welle ,Radio Free Europe , Al Jazeera , PTI , The Express (UK) , CNN , Associated Press ,Daily Times , Press Association , Pakistan Observer , Dawn , Sana , Nation (Pakistan) , Associated Press , DPA , Express Tribune
Ob294 – September 24 2012
♦ 5-8 killed
♦ 2 injured
At least five people were killed in a 9pm strike on a house south of Mir Ali. A single CIA drone reportedly fired two missiles at a ‘mud compound ‘ said to be ‘known as a bastion of the Taliban and al Qaeda ‘. The strike was said to have killed Abu Kasha al Iraqi, ‘reported to be a liaison between al Qaeda and the Taliban’ and a second ‘al Qaeda operative’ named as Saleh Al-Turki. Dawn reported local sources as saying that both men were buried that night. Al Iraqi was first reported killed in October 2008 (B38 ). The others killed were said to be ‘foreigners’ . However the bodies ‘were burnt in the attack and were beyond recognition’. Local tribesmen said that four drones had been flying over the area since the afternoon.
A Pakistani security official told the New York Times al Turki was a field operative, saying: ‘He was not on the FBI’s bounty list, but was a mid-level AQ guy.’ Al Iraqi was said to be ‘long a target of Western counterterrorism agencies’. He had been living in Pakistan’s border regions for 15 years and had married a local tribal cleric’s daughter. US intelligence officials told the Long War Journal they were aware of the reports of the deaths but would not confirm if the two men had died in the strike. They would not confirm or deny if the two had been the target of the strike. But one did say al Iraqi ‘has been on our list for quite some time.’
Location: Khaider khel village, Mir Ali, North Waziristan
References: DPA , Associated Press , The News , Dawn , Xinhua , The News Tribe, AFP , KUNA , Dawn , PTI , Express Tribune , CNN , Dawn , Radio Free Europe , New York Times , Long War Journal
Ob295 – October 1 2012
♦ 2-4 reported killed
A 6am drone strike reportedly targeted a motorbike (or possibly car) near Mir Ali in North Waziristan, killing at least two alleged militants. A security official told AFP that ‘US drones fired four missiles on a militant vehicle, killing three rebels.’ AP cited officials as saying that ‘the men appeared to be foreigners, but that their identities are not known’. An Arab was killed, PakObserver suggested,adding that according to some accounts the attack ‘targeted a motorcycle with a couple of projectiles with one missile landing closed [sic] to the bike and the other hitting the directly the bike eliminating both the vehicle and the rider who was an Arab militant’. The News also cited locals people who reported that a motorbike carrying two men was struck as it drove through a dry stream bed.
The villagers said the bodies were disfigured and were beyond recognition. The identity of the slain men wasn’t known, but official sources said they were militants.
Locals had reported seeing several drones flying over the area prior to the attack. The previous US strike on September 24 which killed two named al Qaeda militants had also targeted the village.
Ob296 – October 10 2012
♦ 5-6 reported killed
♦ 3 reported injured
A pre-dawn attack destroyed a house reportedly belonging to Maulvi Abdullah,described as a local cleric or tribesman, killing five or six alleged militants and injuring up to six more, according to reports. ’Several US drones flew into the area before dawn and fired four missiles on a compound, killing five militants,’ an unnamed security official told AFP. A second official confirmed the casualties to the BBC. ‘The whole house has been damaged in an attack but two rooms of the house have completely collapsed. Six bodies has been recovered from debris,’ a local told the Times. ‘The death toll may increase as all injured are in a very critical condition,’ an official said. Militants had arrived at the compound the previous night, tribesmen told PTI; locals reported seeing five drones flying at low altitude prior to the attack. This was the first strike since amass rally led by Imran Khan attempted to march into Waziristan in protest at drone strikes on October 7. Although the march was blocked from entering Waziristan, it garnered significant media attention.
On October 15 a jihadi website announced the death of Moezeddine Garsallaoui, leader of militant group Jund al Khilafah, reporting that he had been killed in a ‘cowardly, treacherous raid’ in North Waziristan that may have been a drone strike, although few further details. Garsallaoui, who is variously reported as being Swiss or Belgian-Tunisian, was the second husband of Belgian-Moroccan Malika El Aroud, who was convicted of running terrorist websites in 2007. Jund al Khilafa claimed responsibility for the Toulouse shootings in March 2012 that killed a rabbi and three children.
Location: Hurmuz, Mir Ali, North Waziristan
References: Telegraph , PTI , BBC , AFP , Associated Press , Long War Journal ,The Times , Voice of Russia , Xinhua , Long War Journal , SITE intelligence ,Newsweek Pakistan
Ob297 – October 11 2012
♦ 16-26 reported killed
♦ 5-15 reported injured
♦ Possible civilian casualties
In one of the deadliest CIA strikes of 2012, four missiles were reportedly fired at a madrassa belonging to Maulvi Shakirullah, killing up to 18 and wounding many more. Shakirullah is connected to the Haqqani network, Geo TV reported , while the dead included fighters for militant commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur, Associated Press said . ‘US drones fired four missiles on a militant compound, and initial reports say 11 militants have died,’ local official Khushal Khan toldAFP , adding that several Afghans were among the dead. Khan’s deputy later raised the number of those killed to 18, with SANA noting that three other buildings were also damaged in the attack. The News named five of the injured and two of those killed : ‘Some of the injured militants included Mehmood, Khitab, Hafiz Saadi, Khalil Khan, Siddique and Muhammad Irfan while two of the dead were identified as Muhammad Zahir and Younas. The injured were taken to the Civil Hospital in Thall tehsil in Hangu district.’
Eight of the wounded later died of their injuries, the News reported a couple of days after the strike, adding that 16 of the dead were buried in Bulandkhel, four in Miranshah and four elsewhere in the region. Abdullah Khurasani, Tehreek-i-Taliban spokesman, told the paper the strike killed ‘innocent seminary students’ and refuted reports that Maulvi Shakirullah and alleged bombmakerUmar Haqqani had died.
Most media reported the strike took place in Orakzai province, which would make this only the second drone strike recorded by the Bureau in the province, with the previous being a strike targeting Hakimullah Mehsud in April 2009 (Ob10). Dawn reported the building was exactly on the border with North Waziristan, while some local officials insisted it had taken place in North Waziristan itself. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry once again protested the strikeand that of October 10, with an official government note stating:
A protest has been lodged by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the US Embassy Islamabad on drone strikes inside Pakistani territory on 10 and 11 October 2012. The Embassy was informed that drone strikes on Pakistani territory were a clear violation of International Law and Pakistan’s sovereignty. These attacks were unacceptable to Pakistan.
Location: Bulandkhel, Orakzai/North Waziristan
References: Xinhua , Geo TV , Associated Press , Dawn , News Track India , AFP ,CNN , AAP , BBC , AFP , Associated Press , SANA , Voice of America , The Nation , Express Tribune , Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs , The News , New York Times , News Pakistan , FARS , Dawn , The News , Express Tribune
Ob298 – October 24 2012
♦ 1-5 reported killed
♦ 1 civilian reported killed
♦ 6-8 reported injured
The wife of Reshmeen Khan, a retired school headmaster, was reportedly among up to five people killed in the village of Tappi, east of Miranshah. The woman and her six grandchildren were left critically burned when CIA drones were said to have destroyed a house and a vehicle in a mid-afternoon strike, according to most reports. However villagers claimed the drones targeted the woman and children as they walked from a field to the house. The injured children were later named by The News as ’18-year old Kaleemur Rahman son of Siddiqur Rahman; Shahidur Rahman, 12, son of Rasool Badshah, a student of 7th class; Zubair Khan, 11, son of Rafiqur Rahman, 6th class; Samad Rahman, 9, son of Siddiqur Rahman, 5th class; and two girls, a four-year oldAsma daughter of Rafiur Rahman and five-year old Saira daughter of Atiqur Rahman.’ One man killed in the attack was said to be a foreigner although his identity could not be confirmed. Military officers said civilians as well as militants were in the house. However a security official said : ‘It was a militant compound used to store arms and ammunition.’ He added: ‘Three militants were killed. The casualties were not high because there [are] not many militants inside.’ While reports said six children were injured in the strike intelligence officials told Associated Press that two men were injured. Drones remained over the area after the attack, reportedly hampering rescue efforts. An anonymous foreign ministry official condemned the strike. Local residents said three cows or a buffalo and two goats also died. Apparently the livestock were to be sacrificed at the Muslim festival of Eid al Adha on October 26.
Location: Tappi village near Miranshah, North Waziristan
References: Express Tribune , News Tribe, The Nation (Pakistan) , The News ,Dawn , Frontier Post , AFP , Xinhua , CNN , Associated Press, The News , Radio Free Europe , AGI , PTI , AFP , Voice of America , Voice of Russia Radio , Gulf Times , CNN , The Nation (Pakistan) , The News , The News , SANA
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My geopolitical gurus, Spook86 and Wretchard have the damning details:
That latter description--"Almost Real-Time"--is a thinly-veiled reference to U.S. SIGINT capabilities. So clearly, there was a trail of SIGINT reporting as the attack unfolded, and it was flowing to key officials in Washington. If Ms. Lamb was monitoring events near real-time, then it's a certainty that the same message traffic was being received at other locations, including the National Military Joint Intelligence Center (NMJIC) in the Pentagon, and the Situation Room at the White House.
Based on previous accounts, we know that President Obama was briefed on the night of the attack, and those updates were almost certainly based on the same intel traffic received at the State Department.
Meanwhile, the National Security Agency (NSA) was adding even more detail to the picture, through its communications intercepts and reporting. So, as the attack unfolded, administration officials not only knew what was going on inside the consulate, they had a good idea of who was behind the incident, and were quite aware the sophisticated attack (using RPGs and other heavy weapons) was not the work of an angry mob.Yet, the administration continued to lie, as evidenced by Joe Biden's whoppers last week, and the "video" story that made the rounds last month. Such conduct is inexcusable, and beyond the pale by any stretch of political imagination. Yet the same media that worried about George Bush's "lies" in Iraq have exhibited far less concern about the fabrications that followed the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, including the administration's refusal to describe the incident as a terrorist attack for nearly two weeks.
The evidence is now clear. The administration had no warning of the attack on the Benghazi consulate apart from more than a dozen previous attacks. The AP reports:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite two explosions and dozens of other security threats, U.S. officials in Washington turned down repeated pleas from American diplomats in Libya to increase security at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi where the U.S. ambassador was killed, leaders of a House committee asserted Tuesday …
Issa, R-Calif. and Chaffetz, R-Utah said the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans was the latest in a long line of attacks on Western diplomats and officials in Libya in the months before Sept. 11.
The letter listed 13 incidents, but Chaffetz said in an interview there were more than 50. Two of them involved explosive devices: a June 6 blast that blew a hole in the security perimeter. The explosion was described to the committee as “big enough for forty men to go through”; and an April 6 incident where two Libyans who were fired by a security contactor threw a small explosive device over the consulate fence.
Additionally, we see that the Obama Administration has delayed the intelligence briefing traditionally given to party nominees as soon as they get the nomination. Purposefully keeping Romney in the dark, or so used to being in the dark themselves, that they didn't bother to brief him because the current commander-in-chief has skipped more than half of his intel updates, and didn't receive a single intelligence briefing in the week leading up to the current unrest in the Middle East.
Disgraceful. But unnoticed by those indentured to the Democratic narrative.
Additional references & resources:
The worse thing about the Obama presidency is that he has decieved so many Americans. That's the best thing too, because thanks to the President, I have been released from the idea that the plurality of Americans know or care about what this government does. The upside of that is that I can concentrate on more ethical pursuits. The downside is that to the same extent, I leave the field open to the sort of rabble who elect the skunks that get elected. My hope is that the edifice I can build in my ethical pursuits can withstand the idiocy that is bound to follow the skunks & rabble. Yes, I can hope.
I am heartened by Obama's simplistic foreign policy. It lacks the conviction and force of the previous president who was fortunate enough to have common sense on his side, as well as public sentiment. I still say that the greatest thing that GWBush did was to pull the American miliatary out of the closet into the light of true international coalitions to rid the world of real bad guys. Unfortunately, he pulled some whips and chains out of that closet too, and guess whose hands they fell into. Somebody, it turns out, who doesn't mind using them at all.
I'm talking about drone warfare, which is rather the worst kind of deniable cluster bombing. The deniability of state on state warfare is the perfidy that has removed all of the valor from our current conflicts. We don't really know who the enemy is in Pakistan and the President doesn't seem to care to tell us. He backbites while withdrawing support for his own war, promising to remove troops whenever, no matter what circumstances and replace them with machines. The president sees war as a nasty business, always and everywhere. So he prosecutes it mechanically.
Glenn Greenwald exposes the hypocrisy. His essay must be written for people motivated by the notion that hypocrisy is the greatest crime - those who look for nothing more than that. I cannot believe that he is a Pacifist, but anyway. The facts are in: Drones terrorize. Do you suppose the Democrats will turn against war if Romney wins?
Essentially, the Guardian UK is quite likely to be the sort of publication that rants against collateral damage, and ultimately that is what the their beef is. Obama broke their hearts when he 'murdered innocent civilians', you know the sort of thing demon Republicans are supposed to be all about. And so their lot will weep bitter tears as they vote him in again.
Here's the thing of course. Do you know how many people died at Abu Graibh? None. If I recall correctly a prisoner was forced to wear women's underwear on his head. Maybe he even got bit by a dog. Do you think Obama will face the truth of his collateral damage? I don't.
Steven Pinker's latest book posits a theory which makes some rather fantastic predictions about the social evolution of mankind, the overweening ambit of which makes me skeptical. But it is chock full of factual research whose historical interpretation while subjective, point to real and useful knowledge. Of all the tools Pinker uses to support his theory, the one that has stuck with me resides in mind as 'crappy government'.
In 'The Better Angels', Pinker describes that in societies whose governments have not yet reached a stable level of reliable provision of justice based on law and jurisprudence or in areas where such provision has broken down, there arises a pheonomenon of justice based on 'honor codes'. It very much does stand to reason that if I don't believe that the police are going to protect and serve, then I need to take the law into my own hands. And if my loyalties are to families rather than law, then the integrity of that family is more important than any sacrifice for the sake of the legal commons. In other words, the rules of dating my sister substitute for municipal law, and don't you dare talk about my mama.
I take this as the single most useful observation of Pinker's book as it dovetails with Hobbes and is in synch with my critique of the overreach of organic politics - aka 'Who is Your Leviathan?' Nonviolent social protest and all such questions of 'social justice' are an attempt to move multicultural honor systems into national law here in the United States. They weren't in the case of the Civil Rights Movement, because King's SCLC was nationalist and his dream was firmly rooted in the American Dream. That was the Negro position. But the Black Nationalist movement that followed on the heels of Civil Rights successes required international links and Marxist connections. It sought to change the direction of justice coming from an honor established outside of the Pledge of Allegiance, as do its mulitcultural follow-on movements.
-- this above paragraph is my first clearly articulated idea about what exactly people mean by 'social justice', which is to say that it seeks to elevate particular and provincial honor codes to national standing by privileging the victimhood of favored groups according to social definitions. I opposes this because it is anti-modern, and devolves common law towards interest-group law. --
It is clearly the case in every country that has recently found the pretense of what I percieve to be little more than an Onion-style parody video to be an excuse for violent attacks against US embassies their own governments are crappy. At this moment in history an ontological description of 'crappy government' is about all you can say about the Arab Spring. A bunch of largely Muslim folks living among rising food prices fell to the point of violent mistrust in their governments. Most of these populations have little or no experience in participation in responsive government & democratic politics of the sort that has marked the ascent of the black middle class in America in our post-Civil Rights era. They don't have the open and free sort of societies that give them the sort of critical tolerance of rude, ironic, offensive or provocative cultural productions we take for granted in the West. They have either failed to evolve or have lost the evolution of common law providing stable justice on a national basis. And so they have fallen, like anyone would fall, back to the matter of local, provincial and family honor, instead of the rule of law.
It is enough for me to indicate this without any mention of the particular role of Islam other than to speculate the following. I believe that any of the Muslim folk on the street, peasants all, would expect that a proper Islamist government or political faction would amplify their simple interpretations of honor without distortion, and that is especially the case since the provocation here is about the image of the Prophet himself. We have little real expectations that such things as applying to ourselves become national - 'Megan's Law' is the exception rather than the rule, and it's bad law anyway in my opinion.
I should punctuate my observation with the criticism of those who find reasons to justify this violent spasm are likely to be among those who think Muslims are some special case of people whose sensitivities ought to be protected from the callous indifference of nature and the world at large. There's surely an Onion video for them as well.
The Leader of the Free World is busy piling up chips and betting it all on.. what?. Not that I'm listening, but you would think that there's a message the man has that would penetrate. For somebody who was supposed to be a brilliant articulator, he really hasn't come up with any truly memorable phrases we can be proud of.
It just so happens that I was slaving away today without much attention paid to the news. But I did catch this video from Frank Gaffney. It's full of facts that are, quite frankly, boring in these pre-apocalyptic days. I for one have become resigned to a sort of defeatist and defensive strategy in the wake of the predictably pathetic foreign policy of the Obama Administration. I have put my wariness on the shelf and have gotten used to a future of 'whatever'. We are back to the Reagan Era, without even the balls to talk trash. You see Reagan talked a good game but he kept every the US Military on a tight leash with a bigger budget. A decent path to follow if you don't mind what happens in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran. A dumb plan to follow if you really want to accomplish something in South and Central America. Obama talks no trash whatsoever and makes friends with enemies. On the other hand pursues an aggressive, if haphazard and deniable set of guerilla campaigns - all for the purpose of placating whom exactly?. Militarily undercover, like Reagan, but rhetorically dishonest and strategically backwards. In other words, the worst of both worlds.
Obama seems to understand the realpolitik that the American Empire is always at war, but he's got no cred to admit it. And so he's letting all sorts of tactical advantages slip by because he has no grand strategy that can speak to justifying engagements we need to pursue. Therefore we witness what Gaffney sees.
Anyway. Happy 9/11. And yeah we smacked down that mosque. That's the game as it stands.
This morning, as every morning, I woke up with a song in my head. On August 27th, that song was Deuchland Uber Alles. Part of it, I think had to do with the fact that I went to bed last night watching the Motor Trend 2012 Driver's Car Award which went to the new Porsche 911 Carrera S. Or maybe it was the Olympics. Or maybe it was the fact that my youngest daughter is now reading about WW1 (All's Quiet). Either way, the granduer of the song, and my growing fondness for Mahler (starting with #5 of course) provoked an interesting question.
If Germany had won WW2, would black Americans have greater or fewer civil rights by now?
In part, the rhetorical question seeks to debunk the racial qua racial aspect of complaints against racism. Racism doesn't exist because whites are white. It exists because whites are politically racist. It isn't about one's 'aryan' qualities that makes one more or less racist, rather about ones need for a theory of race in politics and government.
That in turn raises the question of whether or not the extermination of Jews as part and parcel of the plan of the Third Reich was an ultimate goal, or an enabler, or both. Was it a domestic question or not? I'm not sure of the answers to these questions even though I did read, some time ago, the book Fatherland.
But tangential to the direct question is whether or not the UK would have fragmented & what the character of the British we Americans would be fond of, which goes back to how much of the global order we now know and take for granted would have emerged under the triumphant but exhausted Third Reich. Would Hitler have initiated his own Marshall Plan? Was Vichy France actually so terrible? Is it conceivable that the Germany we have today, which is by all appearances kinder, gentler, more reasonable and civilized would be similar under the National Socialists? What differences in European Socialism, or the sort Barack Obama seeks to establish as a Neoliberal Social Democrat today would be evident as the Third Reich evolved? These are all variations of the question of whether or not Hitler's fascism would have survived and scaled in the post-war era. Surely the Japanese, holding out as long as they did, would not have capitulated as Axis partners and their influence would have been served as well, in the post-war era - the Italians, not so much.
Ultimately, it is a question of the ways in which, philosophically, National Socialism itself regards the citizen and what levels of provisional citizenship Germany would have given to Americans, and much of that depends upon what level of recognitions Americans would have demanded of themselves.
It might be argued that the American defeats in Korea and Vietnam generated a new kind of abashed unity among Americans, and that such a defeat in WW2 would have all Americans demanding the most rights possible for all Americans under German rule. It could also be argued that given any opportunity for advanced rights under a German system, American whites would gladly accept second (or third) class citizens for all American ethnics the Germans bothered to classify. I find it difficult to believe, without researching the matter, that triumphant Germans would leave the matter open to interpretation. There most definitely would be classes of citizens in the Global Third Reich, and you would be held to them.
It is that notion of the Teutonic persnickety factor that suggests to me that whatever rights were granted to the American Negro, he would have them in short order and have little more than that in the long term. And so that is my position. Now what exactly might those rights be? Would they have been enough? Would we have been satisfied? How effective could any protest against them be in the short term, in the long term? And so where would we be today?
Now here's where the question gets a lot more tricky and interesting. Considering the status and tone of the debate on race today, and especially with the particular significance given by writers like T. Coates at the Atlantic about latent racial cultural politics in America:
What are we to make of the inevitable(?) progress in anti-racist politics? In other words, if black Americans understood white supremacy so well, is there anything at all so different about the white supremacy of the Third Reich, of Jim Crow of Apartheid that would have disabled the sort of progress we have seen in America? Would the Black Panthers, MLK and Malcolm X sufficed? Would black America have come up with the right formula no matter who the white overlords were and how they manifested their dominance? I don't see it difficult to imagine black and white resistance against Nazis building, as it were, a second Underground Railroad - a different kind of Civil Rights movement. On the other hand, it's also not so difficult to imagine a horde of white American Nazi sellouts led by the like of Charles Lindbergh. You may feel free to speculate.
What we are now witnessing is not some new and complicated expression of white racism—rather, it’s the dying embers of the same old racism that once rendered the best pickings of America the exclusive province of unblackness.
I'm going to make a prediction about the future, like in 10 years of Barack Obama. Homeboy is going to be fat, stinking rich and chilling with Bono. Barack Obama is going to be a painful, awful reminder to the professional class of whiners, exactly how power moves and shakes. He will be as large as Bill Clinton. Do you know why? Because he's crafty.
I don't think I'm ever going to be able to hear that Beastie Boys song again, and not think of Barack Obama. Dude has an ego on him worthy of the Sphinx at Cheops. And it is from that perspective, that I take a latent quantum of solace from him from a black man perspective. I like him in the same way I once liked Ed Lover and Dre - absurd, ridiculous, confident and rollin'. I wish I loved him like IceT, but he's a bit too much like Ice Cube. Anyway, if you don't get the metaphors, here's my point from a black existential point of view.
There used to be, well there is for my generation and cohort, a term called 'The Bogard', and it works rather like the metaphor of Chris Rock pretending to know kung fu. You know it's bloody unlikely, but if he's bold enough to say he does, maybe you don't throw the first punch. It's loud screamy talk that works. It's the Cheney Bus. And just like Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours in the honky tonk bar, sometimes you have to just bogard your way through whatever life throws you. OK for you younger folks, just think in Chris Tucker in Rush Hour. When the black guy gets away with it, you cheer. Barack Obama got away with it, big time. He won the lottery and at a certain level, he made it work. Is he actually presidential? No. Of course not. But there are certain aspects of his genuine personality that would inevitably work just perfect given the opportunity. And, he has sat in the big chair for about 4 years. That grey doesn't come from the stylist alone, and there is a nation of millions that can't afford a complete wackjob in charge.
In other words, and to use yet another movie metaphor, if you're Brad Pitt and you're going to make 'Troy' it's in everybody's interest to make you look like you can actually leap 10 feet in the air and chuck a spear faster than a Nolan Ryan fastball. In other words, the people of America who work for the President are duty bound to give him their utmost, and when he gives the word, then the beast is unleashed. You might question his judgment from time to time, but you've got to admit that his crafty ways work under particular circumstances.
So how do you make noise about diplomacy and kick Iran's ass anyway? You get crafty, and Barack Obama gets my highest props for doing just that. Now that it's out there that Stuxnet was America's doing, (and I really ought to check out the blather at Schneier). I have to wave the flag in the air like I just don't care. The Islamic Bomb is the world's number one problem.
Now it must also be said that the consequences of this brave attempt to pursue war by crafty means will eventually backfire - even if we want the Oliver Norths of the world to carry on the American purpose. And it is from that perspective that I stand with Bush's geopolitics of blatant Army action, without giving a rats about what other countries think. The covert is always going on, and so what - but I find it difficult to believe that when there are 20 Seal Teams, that they are all as good as when there were 'six'. Sometimes you need an armored battalion or two.
But I don't want to give any impression that I'm hedging what is without question the single most impressive thing I think our President has sanctioned in his term of office. The hunt for Bin Laden was old policy... Yay Olympic Games.
Deconstructionist, post-modernist, relativists once more are muddled in a semiotic swamp of their own indiscipline. The news is that the American President pursues and destroys enemies of America, and so now they are stuck, now that this president is their boy with coming up with more euphemisms and justifications for such. Instead, they have the starkly frank 'Obama's Kill List' and the implications of all the meetings and decisions that went into such a thing.
This is like a previously 'perfect' and catty teenager discovering her own zits, and it has about that level of emotional impact on me. I guess I've lived long enough.
My input on the matter is simple. According to the New Yorker, the President has been intimately involved in giving the go orders from the Oval Office. This can only mean that he is micromanaging the military - having usurped their public credibility - doing the exact same thing with assuredly worse competence but with presumably superior political cover. I would not go as far as to say 'accountability' because accountability requires transparency, and transparency can only be established at the President's level when he hasn't scorched the earth of his predecessor.
A wise Obama, the sort we don't have, would have merely declared such targets of his 'kill list' as 'enemy combattants', a term we in the American public know as well as we do 'WMD'. He could have then said that the Army was doing America's business as usual, standing on the shoulders of GWBush. Of course the suckers who voted him into office would never accept that, but he would have the benefit of actually telling the truth. Instead, he must continue to pretend to be the European Social Democrat, drive on the left hand side of the road and call a hood a 'bonnet' and all sorts of other un-American things. Only that way can he please a constituency steeped in doublespeak. Speaking of which...
The method we have built, over a couple of hundred years, for sorting out questions of guilt and innocence and probable cause, is due process. And that may be the most degraded phrase of all.
No grownup could possibly make this kind of assertion about military action if Obama didn't give such poison rhetoric the sort of cover he has. But the President has backed himself into the corner of putting an actual war using our own actual soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and special forces on his own political shoulders while sustaining the foolish and incorrect context of criminal prosecution.
That's the massive ego of a man responsible only to those fools who elected him. Unfortunately, that's not America. I wonder if Romney can do any better.
Reagan was a coward with his plausible deniability. Obama is a snake with his obfuscations and duplicity. GWBush called out our enemies to the world and reminded us every day what his intentions were. There was never any question that we are at war. But we clearly have a man in Washington who will use weasel words to suggest that we are not.
Somebody is torn, yes in an emotional tizzy about whether tis more noble to make some point against the political capital of Formula One racing, vis a vis its determination to procede this weekend against the turmoil of a continuing 'Arab Spring' in that chaotic nation. I put it bluntly.
Let me be blunt. Your argument is 'we are the world' politics. You are wanting consumer economic things to do the political. It doesn't. It's just self-congratulatory conspicuous politically correct consumption.
Here's the analogy. There is nothing you can say about the political capital of F1 that doesn't apply double to The America's Cup in yachting. So lets just imagine that you are a British peer writing to your cronies in 1901 whether or not it would be fair to America's Negroes if you were to attend the event that season. As if it mattered.
It doesn't. If you're not going to put military boots on the ground to overthrow the tyrant, everything else is just hot air. Drop the pretense. Enjoy the show.
When you show some idiot cracking his nuts from a fall off a skateboard onto a handrail, you generally have to have a disclaimer 'dont try this at home'. When you show somebody's head smacking the pavement after having been shot with an automatic rifle, the warning is superfluous. Slapstick is what it is, and so is brutality. If we showed enough of War TV, our regular instincts would jump in and we would not need the editorial so much.
Just the other week, a girl fight in a McDonalds had the chatting classes afire with a thousand opinions, clustered into three categories. But wasn't that a waste of bandwidth, or testimony to how civilized we actually are over here in the States? I tend to believe the latter and I do so by keeping our mortality stats in mind.
War TV. It will be coming.
I've also jumped on other bandwagons like Gapminder. The point is that I think it will be inevitable that the next generation of geopolitics can and will be crowdsourced by our bourgie tastes. The important question will be Who Is Your Leviathan? But I'll finish that essay in the future.
In the meanwhile the meme of Kony 2012 is yet another instance of the American instinct towards bourgeois neoconservative intervention. One of these neat tools that helped this lightning movement along is the LRA Crisis Tracker. Check it out. Oh and it wasn't invented by Vivek Kundra.
I should also bring to your attention that this is structured data (experts talking about something) which is what I do for a living. Facebook and Twitter are unstructured data (nobody in particular talking about everything), which is what makes today's billionaires.
Our President seems to have noticed that other countries are not impressed with his diplomacy and they do what they like. And now he's angry about it. Awww.
The Obama administration is absolutely furious at Russia and China. The two UN Security Council permanent members' move on Saturday to veto a resolution on Syria utterly infuriated US President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Ambassador Susan Rice. And they want us all to know just how piping mad they really are.
Rice called the vetoes "unforgivable," and said that "any further blood that flows will be on their hands." She said the US was "disgusted."
Clinton called the move by Moscow and Beijing a "travesty." She then said that the US will take action outside the UN, "with those allies and partners who support the Syrian people's right to have a better future."
Obama's people were all about being anti-Israel when this inevitability was becoming obvious several years ago.
A lot of good stuff here. Just basic geopolitical perspective that our media fails to deliver. His first point about the diffusion of the US is right on time. I can verify first hand that Austin is very different than Minneapolis is very different than Miami is very different than Milwaukee.
The regionalism of China and the history of Japanese change, as well as the motivations behind their military actions in Manchuria is a history most Americans know nothing about.
There's a great deal to say about this book and that's primarily because there's great deal in it. It is the kind of compendium of argumentation one would expect to come out of a single mind which correlates with a number of similar types of theorists but it defies common sense and theoretical plans in ways that make its own thesis mockable. Which is to say it's bound to be a controversial and important book for years to come as we come back to it rather in the same way we came back to Fukyama after 9/11.The thesis? Stop worrying about The Bomb because in just about every way you can measure, humanity has grown up and we are all non-violent now.
I've had just about all I can take of Pinker as he marches into the current events section late in the book. I may finish, but I've certainly read enough to find some extraordinarily good stuff. What Pinker has done in many ways is that he has justified just about everything I've considered in my eschewing the domestic noise over the body counts of the Civil Rights Movement as its justification. He has opened up the real can of facts about the thing I've been calling War TV - getting real about the body counts and the relative importance of mortality in estimating how much moral outrage is appropriate given the nature and history of war. So it's rather disappointing that he spends so much time exemplifying this and that in terms of gender and race relations in contemporary America rather than something socially much more world historical like the One Child Policy in China.
Pinker sometimes annoys me by confusing the map with the territory. Granted, you must not suspend disbelief as he goes through the statistics about violence - and he does so in every category in every country in which they are available, but when statistics fail to show motive he inserts his own narrative which I think tends to be overly progressive. Pinker also betrays a biased understanding of how history unfolds. He most definitely comes from the Great Man school. Have too recently read Esdaile's account of the Napoleonic Wars as well as several histories from Ferguson (Warburg, Civilization, Pity of War, Ascent of Money) most everything Pinker gives as a reason for conflict feels incredibly reductive. As well, he all too often falls into contemporary metaphor for example, citing Tom Lehrer's song "Who's Next" to describe the public's attitude towards nuclear proliferation. That's ok for bloggers. Not so much for historians.
To his great credit, Pinker eviscerates a good deal of wishful thinking and illustrates how attitudes and mental illusions cloud the way people interpret facts and news. I think that at an individual level, Pinker has got it nailed. But I don't think he does any justice to the ways and means by which polities express themselves and wield the powers that move the great powers. This is the missing piece in his narrative that I think moves too quickly from statistical correlations and causalities to conclusions about whys and wherefores. He has done, as far as I can tell, a very credible job in interpreting the statisics and analyses to which he has availed himself, but the arc of his story is far too ambitious to support the theory he proposes. Nevertheless, the entire subject of violence has been kicked up a notch and the challenges he presents to sociology is rather immense. Number one on this chart is his disabuse of the 'hydraulic theory' of violence - that every suppression of violent behavior in one segment of society or humanity must be countered by an escalation somewhere else, or that aggression suppressed boils under the covers only to explode somewhere else. In this, he explodes myths about war in Africa, the nature of rape and speculation about our long peace' lacuna, like the idea that WW3 is next.
Number Two myth that Pinker explodes is particularly salient. Pinker challenges the unquestioned association of violence with poverty. The argument is simple and clear. The third world remains poor, remains young and remains 'restlessly' male. But the incidence of civil wars change dramatically over time even though these 'structural variables' do not.
What dampens my enthusiasm about Pinker's book is that I think he extrapolates a bit too far with his ideas about civilizing processes, specifically when making the case about nukes. His use of Hobbesian Leviathan ideas work in conjunction with his ideas about personal honor codes and self-help justice, but when he extends them to the progress made on nuclear disarmament I think he completely misses the boat. I think that it is entirely reasonable to give credit where credit is due with regard to nuclear disarmament and the failure of the Cold War to end in nuclear winter. And he is right to chastise the maintainers of the Doomsday Clock to change their criteria so that it's always a minute to midnight. But nuclear disarmament talks were the reason new regimes were set in place to make great power war less likely. Such diplomacy does not trickle down. So all the multifarious reasons the rape of women within the context of marriage has been criminalized has nothing to do with the multifarious reasons Russian troops did not engage American troops in Vietnam.
In short I don't see any overarching theory that can explain the reduction in violent human behavior than exactly the allegory he uses in his title. 'Better Angels'. There are too many specific angels to describe the whole heavenly host. And that is proper. Perhaps vio But where he goes to make the cases that he can are excellent and not to be missed. I do tend to agree that his theory ought to be 'The Nationalization of Violence' and spend more time examining the very specific ways that societies, cultures, groups and individuals disempower themselves of violent recourse for the sake of national identity - presicesly the give and take of individual sovereignty and the defense of rights. That would be a book we could sink our teeth into.(Because it would support or debunk a further explanation of why political philosophy does or does not work to reduce war.)
Because the social contract has changed so much between the 17th/18th century Europe and today in so many sovereign polities one cannot make much use of those statistics. But we could look at the trade offs between individual defense of liberties & honor codes vs those formalized by government powers in a variety of nations. I just felt throughout that South America just didn't figure into any of his calculations and the nature of the crimes perpetrated by dictators there in recent history were given short shrift merely because they didn't involve enough Europeans or interest enough European statisticians. So he had no narrative to make up and left power laws to describe all their conflicts.
So basically what you are left with is a chunky soup of a book that masquerades as a meal. Everything that is wrong with the book is everything wrong with aggregating micro and uneven distributions of statistics into a grand narrative that self-admittedly can make no predictions. It's almost a theory but more often than not sounds like wishful thinking in the gaps between very strong and pointed debunking arguments. If Pinker is the best in the world, he shows exactly how far we have to go to understand ourselves. If not, then he puts statistics to good use, and overuse showing why we need more historians like Esdaile and Furguson.
From his OpEd in the NYTimes in its entirety.
By AYAD ALLAWI, OSAMA AL-NUJAIFI and RAFE AL-ESSAWI
Published: December 27, 2011
IRAQ today stands on the brink of disaster. President Obama kept his campaign pledge to end the war here, but it has not ended the way anyone in Washington wanted. The prize, for which so many American soldiers believed they were fighting, was a functioning democratic and nonsectarian state. But Iraq is now moving in the opposite direction — toward a sectarian autocracy that carries with it the threat of devastating civil war.
Since Iraq’s 2010 election, we have witnessed the subordination of the state to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s Dawa party, the erosion of judicial independence, the intimidation of opponents and the dismantling of independent institutions intended to promote clean elections and combat corruption. All of this happened during the Arab Spring, while other countries were ousting dictators in favor of democracy. Iraq had a chance to demonstrate, for the first time in the modern Middle East, that political power could peacefully pass between political rivals following proper elections. Instead, it has become a battleground of sects, in which identity politics have crippled democratic development.
We are leaders of Iraqiya, the political coalition that won the most seats in the 2010 election and represents more than a quarter of all Iraqis. We do not think of ourselves as Sunni or Shiite, but as Iraqis, with a constituency spanning the entire country. We are now being hounded and threatened by Mr. Maliki, who is attempting to drive us out of Iraqi political life and create an authoritarian one-party state.
In the past few weeks, as the American military presence ended, another military force moved in to fill the void. Our homes and offices in Baghdad’s Green Zone were surrounded by Mr. Maliki’s security forces. He has laid siege to our party, and has done so with the blessing of a politicized judiciary and law enforcement system that have become virtual extensions of his personal office. He has accused Iraq’s vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, of terrorism; moved to fire Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq; and sought to investigate one of us, Rafe al-Essawi, for specious links to insurgents — all immediately after Mr. Maliki returned to Iraq from Washington, wrongly giving Iraqis the impression that he’d been given carte blanche by the United States to do so.
After Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. urged all parties to maintain a unity government on Dec. 16, Mr. Maliki threatened to form a government that completely excluded Iraqiya and other opposition voices. Meanwhile, Mr. Maliki is welcoming into the political process the Iranian-sponsored Shiite militia group Asaib Ahl al-Haq, whose leaders kidnapped and killed five American soldiers and murdered four British hostages in 2007.
It did not have to happen this way. The Iraqi people emerged from the bloody and painful transition after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime hoping for a brighter future. After the 2010 election, we felt there was a real opportunity to create a new Iraq that could be a model for the region. We needed the United States to protect the political process, to prevent violations of the Constitution and to help develop democratic institutions.
For the sake of stability, Iraqiya agreed to join the national unity government following a landmark power-sharing agreement reached a year ago in Erbil. However, for more than a year now Mr. Maliki has refused to implement this agreement, instead concentrating greater power in his own hands. As part of the Erbil agreement, one of us, Ayad Allawi, was designated to head a proposed policy council but declined this powerless appointment because Mr. Maliki refused to share any decision-making authority.
After the 2010 election, Mr. Maliki assumed the roles of minister of the interior, minister of defense and minister for national security. (He has since delegated the defense and national security portfolios to loyalists without parliamentary approval.) Unfortunately, the United States continued to support Mr. Maliki after he reneged on the Erbil agreement and strengthened security forces that operate without democratic oversight.
Ayad Allawi, leader of the Iraqiya coalition, was Iraq’s prime minister from 2004-5. Osama al-Nujaifi is the speaker of the Iraqi Parliament. Rafe al-Essawi is Iraq’s finance minister.
(Page 2 of 2)
Now America is working with Iraqis to convene another national conference to resolve the crisis. We welcome this step and are ready to resolve our problems peacefully, using the Erbil agreement as a starting point. But first, Mr. Maliki’s office must stop issuing directives to military units, making unilateral military appointments and seeking to influence the judiciary; his national security adviser must give up complete control over the Iraqi intelligence and national security agencies, which are supposed to be independent institutions but have become a virtual extension of Mr. Maliki’s Dawa party; and his Dawa loyalists must give up control of the security units that oversee the Green Zone and intimidate political opponents.
The United States must make clear that a power-sharing government is the only viable option for Iraq and that American support for Mr. Maliki is conditional on his fulfilling the Erbil agreement and dissolving the unconstitutional entities through which he now rules. Likewise, American assistance to Iraq’s army, police and intelligence services must be conditioned on those institutions being representative of the nation rather than one sect or party.
For years, we have sought a strategic partnership with America to help us build the Iraq of our dreams: a nationalist, liberal, secular country, with democratic institutions and a democratic culture. But the American withdrawal may leave us with the Iraq of our nightmares: a country in which a partisan military protects a sectarian, self-serving regime rather than the people or the Constitution; the judiciary kowtows to those in power; and the nation’s wealth is captured by a corrupt elite rather than invested in the development of the nation.
We are glad that your brave soldiers have made it home for the holidays and we wish them peace and happiness. But as Iraq once again teeters on the brink, we respectfully ask America’s leaders to understand that unconditional support for Mr. Maliki is pushing Iraq down the path to civil war.
Unless America acts rapidly to help create a successful unity government, Iraq is doomed.
Ayad Allawi, leader of the Iraqiya coalition, was Iraq’s prime minister from 2004-5. Osama al-Nujaifi is the speaker of the Iraqi Parliament. Rafe al-Essawi is Iraq’s finance minister.
When you campaigned in '07 to end the war without prejudice, all your supporters said "Yes we can!" Yes you did. Proud?
The Empire distributes goods and services. The finest, the most plentiful, the most convenient. In return, you get to be a citizen of the Empire and are subject to its laws. The Empire is the only civilization on the planet. Everywhere else is... well. Nobarland. The Empire is The Grid. You live on it. It lives in you. Escape at your own peril.
I've written before about this phenomenon when I realized (but still can't manage to get it through my thick skull) that there very well may be a practically infinite upside to computing. That is to say whether or not we are accellerated by Moore's Law, we are going to keep building more and more huge systems, and keep expanding the economy of the digital revolution.
I asked if it makes sense to consider that everybody wants to be loyal to democracy. The difference between global democracy and global empire is subtle, but I don't think that we in America recognize or care about that difference. In that regard we are all Wilsonian Neocons. We all want Doctors Without Borders, we all want Google Without Borders and we all want our cellphones to work everywhere and never drop a call. We want everyone in every country to stop polluting and stop greenhouse gas emissions. We want people everywhere to survive AIDS and breast cancer and floods and famine. And as our friendly neighborhood interlocutor DMG reminds us, we want to live on the Moon.
None of that comes for free, except that if you live in America, you're already halfway there. If you don't live in America, we already know what you want because we are living in the future your leaders must promise you. I'll repeat that. If you are not living in America, know that we are living in the future your leaders must promise you. Because if they don't promise it to you, you'll just run across the border and get it here. You can do that, you know. With our doctors, and our Google, and our JP Morgan Chase and our AT&T. And you might call your cellphone provider Vodaphone or your Google Baidu, but underneath it's the same protocol. There's only a few ways to survive breast cancer and the protocols belong to the Empire. You must attend our Universities to learn it. There's no way you can do it on your own.
In fact the things you can do on your own off The Grid are dwindling in number and social significance. If you don't want Luxury, we already know where you're going to be. We call it Nobarland aka the Hobbsian Hell on Earth, where life is 'solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short'. Yeah that Hobbes. He knew it in 1651.
I just wanted to remind you of all that. You see, there is this rather annoying presumption by our friends to the Left that America shouldn't be an Empire. But in fact it already is. It is the Empire of Western Civilization, and we're all Western now.
There are several unstated implications of this desire for civilization and its various manifest destinies that have to do with law and military force that our liberal friends are loathe to admit. Which is why they would like to believe that there is nothing but seduction involved. Seduction is just marketing. You will be branded all the same.
My interest in this looks to immigration and The Last ID, as well as XRepublic and public transparency.
From the Belmont Club
Meanwhile, Maliki has told the Kurds to turn over Hashimi, an act which may set the clock ticking. “Maliki, calling on the Kurds to hand over Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi who has taken refuge in their autonomous region, said he wanted Hashemi’s Sunni-backed Iraqiya block to end a boycott of parliament and of his year-old power-sharing government.” If they refused, he said, they could leave the government entirely. That was yet another act which set the fuse going. There are altogether too many fuses burning for safety’s sake. And the question is, who’s goint to put them out?
Maliki’s ultimatums have set up a a showdown. It is an axiom that an officer who issues an order that is likely to be refused by his subordinates risks not only a specific disobedience but the complete collapse of his authority. If the Kurds defy Maliki, what then? One possible scenario was supplied by the Iraqi foreign minister, a Kurd, who darkly hinted thatforeign powers might be tempted to intervene in Iraq and plunge it into turmoil. He was probably referring to Iran and Syria.
If Iran or Syria goes into Iraq and if the Kurds get mushed, and if Maliki keeps throwing Sunni gang signs, everything will be on Obama's head to prove his diplomacy won't undo all those years, money and blood America has spent in Iraq. I don't want to say that he has already lost the peace, but I don't have much confidence.
Now that Christopher Hitchens is dead, the English speaking world is going to be able to get by with a little more bullshit. I'm going to have to find someone else, we all are, who can write well, tell the painful facts about the preservation of liberty and knock back a few like a man who appreciates life. When I began to be a writer, I learned something important which is that you don't have to have a humble opinion and you don't have to apologize for the one you have,unless of course you are wrong. What's fortunate is that we live in an era where it still appreciated around certain parts, that one can inform one's wrong opinion, and better men still do. Hitch was one of the best because his was about as informed an opition as anyone who is not a machine can be.
Hitchens reminds me of several virtues. The first, and probably foremost, is that if one is a man one should always remain a man. None could say that he was a dupe, or a tool, a fool or a lackey. He was his own man and he wrote his own words. He traveled to places and looked to see things with his own eyes. He had friends, and parents. I recall these things about Hitchens which are aspects of the lives of many other public figures that seem to disappear into their auras.
I must mention with some sadness the reviews I have readabout his passing, last and probably least of those passed on by Serwer by some heretofore unknown hack at Slate, a magazine which has become barely tolerable even as it wrecked Hitchen's last RSS feed. It seems that nobody I've read has seemed to find anything worth saying about him that outweighs his intolerance of the illogic of religious belief. It's as if he had no life or work worth mentioning before 'God is Not Great'.
For the time being, I am not the writer I used to be and am not trying to wax particularly eloquent on literary matters, although my tastes for good writing continues to serve me against the wailing of Hitchens' anklebiters. Still, I await Martin Amis' migration here and will continue to read what's good, little of which I expect to contradict the truths of Hitchens' life. In fact, until Amis writes his obituary, nothing will have been said, as far as I'm concerned. And yet it is that thing that I leave in limbo, my life as a writer, that is re-energized by the slavish and muddled opprobrium slap-dashed in Hitchens' general direction. Still, I should remember not to be defensive...
Let me add one more thing. I have never seen such scribbling after his death. It's quite Orwellian how much has been re-arraged of his online works over the past week.
Civil libertarians everywhere are up in arms about the way in which the Obama administration has continued to extend and expand the ability to prosecute American citizens who are variously described as terrorists. The PATRIOT act has not been sunsetted, the TSA is still practicing its security theatre unabated, drone attacks continue without boots on the ground and even the law about how secrets are classified was almost classified.
Throughout all of this, hawks on the Right like me are mystified at the lack of continuity by Obama to speak about dealing with the enemies of America forthrightly as his predecessor did. And most recently I've heard that the DOD has termed the deadly attack at Fort Hood as 'workplace violence'.
My conclusion is that Obama wants America to have all the powers GWBush did, except he wants none of the political flack that comes with justifying those powers for the sake of Bush's Long War. The effect is simply worse for democracy, and for me it takes on Orwellian sinister overtones.
GWBush was a cowboy. Obama is a spy.
He is as slippery now as he was back then. It is his worst fault. He is the Situational President.
(AP) - Islamist parties captured an overwhelming majority of votes in the first round of Egypt's parliamentary elections, setting up a power struggle with the much weaker liberals behind the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak 10 months ago. Official results released today show that, as indicated by preliminary results,the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party garnered 36.6% of the 9.7 million valid ballots cast for party lists. The Nour Party, a more hard-line Islamist group that wants to impose strict Islamic law, captured 24.4%.
Cobb told you so.
: Lawrence Wright on the Muslim Brotherhood
Obama never had any strengths in geopolitical strategy. He's the 'smile and wave' sort. It comes as no surprise that there is no US leadership in this regard. Obama will very likely let Europe do whatever they want. His precedent for opaque military action (vis a vis Predator strikes in Pakistan) has always been provocative. His willingness to sacrifice any military leadership that costs him politically is part of his short attention span theater. We knew his presidency would be costly in this regard.
There's a great passage in Niall Ferguson's latest book Civilization: The West and the Rest that's an excellent jumping off point for discussions about income inequality and the prospects for capitalism. I also see this in terms of my Peasant Theory, so this is an interesting and important area of my concern. My emphasis is bold.
If the Cold War had ever become hot, the Soviet Union would very likely have won it. With a political system far better able to absorb heavy war losses (the Second World War death rate as a percentage of the pre-war population had been fifty times higher than that for the United States), the Soviet Union also had an economic system that was ideally suited to the mass production of sophisticated weaponry. Indeed, by 1974 the Soviets had a substantially larger arsenal of strategic bombers and ballistic missiles. Scientifically, they lagged only a little way behind. They were also armed with an ideology that was a great deal more appealing than the American alternative in post-colonial societies all over what became known as the Third World, where poor peasantries contemplated a life of drudgery under the heel of corrupt elites who owned all the land and controlled the armed forces.82 Indeed, it could be argued that the Soviets actually won ‘the Third World’s War’. Where there was a meaningful class war, communism could prevail.83
Yet the Cold War turned out to be about butter more than guns, ballgames more than bombs. Societies living in perpetual fear of Armageddon nevertheless had to get on with civilian life, since even the large armies of the 1950s and 1960s were still much smaller than the armies of the 1940s. From a peak of 8.6 per cent of the population in 1945, the US armed forces were down below 1 per cent by 1948 and never rose above 2.2 per cent thereafter, even at the height of the American interventions in Korea and Vietnam. The USSR remained more militarized, but the military share of the population nevertheless declined from a post-war peak of 7.4 per cent in 1945 and remained consistently below 2 per cent after 1957.84The problem for the Soviet Union was simple: the United States offered a far more attractive version of civilian life than the Soviets could. And this was not just because of an inherent advantage in terms of resource endowment. It was because centralized economic planning, though indispensable to success in the nuclear arms race, was wholly unsuited to the satisfaction of consumer wants. The planner is best able to devise and deliver the ultimate weapon to a single client, the state. But the planner can never hope to meet the desires of millions of individual consumers, whose tastes are in any case in a state of constant flux. This was one of the many insights of Keynes’s arch-rival, the Austrian economist Friedrich von Hayek, whose Road to Serfdom (1945) had warned Western Europe to resist the chimera of peacetime planning. It was in meeting (and creating) consumer demands that the American market model, revitalized during the war by the biggest fiscal and monetary stimulus of all time, and sheltered by geography from the depredations of total war, proved to be unbeatable.
Ferguson, Niall (2011-11-01). Civilization: The West and the Rest (Kindle Locations 4245-4266). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.
It really boils down to this. Income inequality is the consequence of the ability of individuals and their companies to get a better handle on what the consumer wants in a consumer economy. If you don't have a consumer economy, then the needs of human beings are very basic and entirely capable of being sustained by a central planning government bureacracy. This is how people survive in the Third World without consumer market economies. Human beings can and do adapt to living in relative poverty.
So I want to draw attention to the income inequality between the American middle class and the Soviet middle class. The parents of the Baby Boomers was the first generation of Americans to have access to consumer credit. I grew up in Los Angeles with no credit. My back to school clothes were bought on layaway at Orbachs on Wilshire Boulevard, and even that was a big deal. (Signal Wealth). Is the cost of this banking crisis in America is to take consumer credit back to that era? Could we survive without consumer credit? Of course we could, and the economy would shrink, but personal savings would increase. And it is precisely that formula of reduced spending in the household that people rail against when it is the rich household that is doing so. I believe that a good percentage of American employment is foo foo employment, which is to say 'nice to have' from the perspective of corporate employers who seem to be arbitrarily laying off. That is not to say that many corporations are not well managed and simply callous in their cost-cutting of rank and file employees rather than trimming management. But to say that there are new classes of consumer goods and employment deriving from that which can be considered expendable.
It seems to me that from the Occupy POV, which I interpret as socialist and anti-corporate (but also useful from some perspectives), the waste, fraud and abuse of capitalism comes from its ability to make extraordinarily wealthy people who have orders of magnitude more wealth than the rest of us. To the extent that they are not specific, the enemy is wealth itself. In otherwords they want class warfare. If they are to be specific, then they have to say what sort of wealth is bad. To attack the idea of the corporation itself is to attack equally the makers of baby food and the makers of chemical weapons. Dow Chemical is a corporation and so are the makers of Gerber, Nestle. Nestle is 5x larger than Dow, and why shouldn't they be? I am not able to differentiate Occupy's definition of good wealth vs bad, but if they have one principle with which I agree it is that there should be no public bailouts of private failure. This is an endorsement of private enterprise without industrial (central planning) policy. But the extent to which they may desire advanced and burdensome regulation could amount to the same thing. In any case, without being specific about which corporations are good and which are bad, their focus on banking may end up simply rolling back consumer credit. That doubles down the bet against the consumer economy.
I have always looked at the number of choices in the supermarket as an indicator of the health of the economy. I'm not alone in wondering what's wrong when I don't see fresh produce of the sort I want in that aisle. The connection to signal wealth consumer items, as foo foo as they may be is what gives the American (peasant) consumer his status and what makes his providers rich. Entertainment money is but a fraction of the American consumer's budget, but the connection is much clearer. U2 is rich because their audience pays them. Tom Cruise is rich because his audience pays him. The same is true for McDonalds, Nestle, Dow, Xerox, Ford, etc etc. Americans would not stand for their choices as consumers to be reduced to 'plain wrap' or GI supplies. That reeks of the Soviet system. But inevitably our extra wealth (a lot of which is foo foo signal wealth) comes exactly from that choice being made available in the market and all of the 'extra' business created by fashion. If there were only one style of sunglasses for the masses, then Ralph Lauren and Oakley would be flat on their asses.
Do you want there to be people who can afford a BMW, or should every car be 'the peoples car'? I want the connection to be clear. The more the government regulates, the fewer legal choices exist. The fewer that exist, the more you constrain the economy and make it more centrally planned, the more you increase income equality, the more it works for the Soviets, the more you approach as our good friend CNu terms it, 'warsocialism'. When a job is just a job, then a military job is just like any other.
This is Obama on Iranian Nukes in 2009:
This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically-elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I have made it clear to Iran's leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question, now, is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.
It will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect. But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America's interests. It is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.
I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation – including Iran – should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the Treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.
Transcript: "Good morning Mr. van Rompuy, you've been in office for one year, and in that time the whole edifice is beginning to crumble, there's chaos, the money's running out, I should thank you - you should perhaps be the pinup boy of the euroskeptic movement. But just look around this chamber this morning, look at these faces, look at the fear, look at the anger. Poor Barroso here looks like he's seen a ghost. They're beginning to understand that the game is up. And yet in their desperation to preserve their dream, they want to remove any remaining traces of democracy from the system. And it's pretty clear that none of you have learned anything. When you yourself Mr. van Rompuy say that the euro has brought us stability, I supposed I could applaud you for having a sense of humor, but isn't this really just the bunker [or banker?] mentality. Your fanaticism is out in the open. You talk about the fact that it was a lie to believe that the nation state could exist in the 21st century globalized world. Well, that may be true in the case of Belgium who haven't had a government for 6 months, but for the rest of us, right across every member state in this union, increasingly people are saying, "We don't want that flag, we don't want the anthem, we don't want this political class, we want the whole thing consigned to the dustbin of history." We had the Greek tragedy earlier on this year, and now we have the situation in Ireland. I know that the stupidity and greed of Irish politicians has a lot to do with this: they should never, ever have joined the euro. They suffered with low interest rates, a false boom and a massive bust. But look at your response to them: what they are being told as their government is collapsing is that it would be inappropriate for them to have a general election. In fact commissioner Rehn here said they had to agree to a budget first before they are allowed to have a general election. Just who the hell do you think you people are. You are very, very dangerous people indeed: your obsession with creating this European state means that you are happy to destroy democracy, you appear to be happy with millions and millions of people to be unemployed and to be poor. Untold millions will suffer so that your euro dream can continue. Well it won't work, cause its Portugal next with their debt levels of 325% of GDP they are the next ones on the list, and after that I suspect it will be Spain, and the bailout for Spain will be 7 times the size of Ireland, and at that moment all the bailout money will is gone - there won't be any more. But it's even more serious than economics, because if you rob people of their identity, if you rob them of their democracy, then all they are left with is nationalism and violence. I can only hope and pray that the euro project is destroyed by the markets before that really happens."
One year ago. Farage now sounds prophetic. His itch will need more scratching. It cannot be ignored.
Barnett has details.
CFR Senior Fellow John Campbell notes that "the context of Boko Haram is easier to talk about than Boko Haram itself." Injustice and poverty, as well as the belief that the West is a corrupting influence in governance, are root causes of both the desire to implement sharia and Boko Haram's pursuit of an Islamic state, say experts. "The emergence of Boko Haram signifies the maturation of long festering extremist impulses that run deep in the social reality of northern Nigeria," writes Nigerian analyst Chris Ngwodo. "But the group itself is an effect and not a cause; it is a symptom of decades of failed government and elite delinquency finally ripening into social chaos."
Together, we must confront the new hazards of chemical and biological weapons and the outlaw states, terrorists, and organized criminals seeking to acquire them. Saddam Hussein has spent the better part of this decade and much of his nation's wealth not on providing for the Iraqi people but on developing nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them. The United Nations weapons inspectors have done a truly remarkable job finding and destroying more of Iraq's arsenal than was destroyed during the entire Gulf war. Now Saddam Hussein wants to stop them from completing their mission.
I know I speak for everyone in this chamber, Republicans and Democrats, when I say to Saddam Hussein, "You cannot defy the will of the world," and when I say to him, "You have used weapons of mass destruction before. We are determined to deny you the capacity to use them again."
President Bill Clinton
January 27, 1998
Three weeks ago I was in Hollywood taking my neice on the Typical Tour and we came across the standard variety of fruits and nuts one expects to find cadging dollars from tourists. There were break dancers, chanting Krishnas, people dressed as Iron Man, Spiderman, Darth Vader and Naruto, paint can drummers and some cultists going on about the end of the world.
It turns out that the cultists had more followers than a few, and just now I have come to discover the name of Harold Camping. Perhaps that was the man who said on the Michael Medved show yesterday that all of the sinners were going to be raised from their graves and their bones left above ground - literally billions of dead. Cultists!
It's rather coincidental then, that I have been reading Charles Stross' Laundry series and becoming more familiar with Lovecraftian fiction. It's something I've always been aware of but never been attracted to. In the latest book, The Fuller Memorandum, a similar scenario was to take place. In fact, it is one of the standard premises of the series called Case Nightmare Green. As much as Gnu Atheists like to make fun of the religious, a great deal of sci fi is equally ridiculous and unprovable. But I say all good fictions serve a purpose. Think 'War of the Worlds'. What is that but a 'scientifically plausible' Rapture? The point of Rapture, or Nuclear Winter, or Global Warming is to test the morality of people now who need to be scared into action by reckoning with their own mortality and the inevitable death of their neighbors. The point is not *when* it will happen, but *that* it could happen, especially if we sit around and do nothing to stop it. It's always the same thing, all you need is the proper nightmare scenario. Never let a good crisis go to waste.
Now the Lovecraftian makes more sense to me - helping me to reckon with that which is completely absurd and obscure. That which, left untended, could cause men to lose their minds and personalities. Like the crazy gas that the enemy of Batman let loose in that movie, there are things out there that make people go bonkers, reducing them by way of sheer horror to inert husks of their former selves. Are there such gibbering horrors loose in our world? Yes, I believe there are. You might call it 'mental illness' or even traumatic stress disorder, or religious fundamentalism, or any number of labels. But there are poisons that infect and snap the mind. What would it take for you to consider it in your interest to dress up like Soulja Boy and dance for dollars on Hollywood Boulevard? Somebody is already there, and worse.
Worse is like the mind of Assad who is having his soldiers assassinate civilians in the streets of Syria, gunning them down like feral dogs.
It is the end of somebody's world every day. And we don't have to look for reasons beyond the stars. What kind of madness compels us to find cosmic reasons in spite of the reality of today's tyranny?
It was a boring day in Boston back in 1993 that I found myself at the central public library on Boylston. I was admiring the architecture of the building in the large lobby when I suddenly found myself face to face with a large life-sized photograph of combat. There was a photojournalism exhibit there that day and the pictures were shocking. I realized that I hadn't seen anything so graphic in a very long time.
It reminded me that whatever I might think of Boston there were certainly worse places to be. And it also reminded me that all of the media we consume, very little of it sticks. We are addicted to a certain level of 'realism' that is less real than it seems.
I've had a couple opportunities to remind people in conversation over the past week or so that American journalistic standards, unlike those in South America, do not allow pictures of dead bodies. Go ahead. Try to find one. And just last night, I was watching several comics on Netflix and one of them made that familiar remark about how much violence we allow kids to watch on television, and how little sex we do. But if you were an NBA fan, you surely saw the video of Rajan Rondo getting his elbow dislocated, and you cringed. That's the kind of violence that you never see in all of our media. The simple fact is that we have been exposed to a lot, but within some margins. No you haven't seen it all.
Here at the blog I recall several incidents that the media went close to a limit and the blogosphere went over the edge.Firstly there was the Nick Berg video, the poor fellow who was beheaded by jihadists went around the net like wildfire. I refused to publish it or even watch it where it was published. Then there was that maniac who went on a shooting spree at Virginia Tech. There was something awfully sick about 'Richard McBeef' the screenplay he was writing. This morning I found a link to a video taken in Syria showing people shot down in the streets. It immediately reminded me of the lost art of photojournalism of the sort I think we could all benefit from: War TV.
War TV is just that. A new channel on your lineup, in HD, documenting conflicts around the world 24/7. Forget the fake six o'clock news mantra 'If it bleeds, it leads' and show what real war looks like.
When you show some idiot cracking his nuts from a fall off a skateboard onto a handrail, you generally have to have a disclaimer 'dont try this at home'. When you show somebody's head smacking the pavement after having been shot with an automatic rifle, the warning is superfluous. Slapstick is what it is, and so is brutality. If we showed enough of War TV, our regular instincts would jump in and we would not need the editorial so much.
Just the other week, a girl fight in a McDonalds had the chatting classes afire with a thousand opinions, clustered into three categories. But wasn't that a waste of bandwidth, or testimony to how civilized we actually are over here in the States? I tend to believe the latter and I do so by keeping our mortality stats in mind.
War TV. It will be coming.
Barack Obama is screwing up so wonderfully that it's going to be pretty difficult for any future president run so slipshod a policy in the Middle East. His declaration today is so hidebound, so regressive and so arrogantly ignorant that you couldn't invent it. It is a truth stranger than fiction that equates Hamas and the Knesset which is so bold in it's self-deception that... well, it's going to take a nice fat little war to show how insane his thinking is.
Here's a toast to the rockets. May the blood of a thousand future civilians mark this day in American foreign policy infamy.
So the details of the raid are starting to come in and it's very cool to consider who had to know what as the facts roll in. So here's the thing that has been on my mind for a while. This safehouse is clearly deep into Pakistan. You don't get a joint like that without lots of help, and I mean ISI and PakMil. I've been figuring that elements in the ISI have been playing this game for a while. Last June I wrote:
What if our troops found Osama? I mean practically speaking it should be understood that the reason why we don't find him is because he's got protection in Pakistan and Pakistan is generally off limits to our troops. We found Saddam, and he had a whole army to protect him - Osama's army only needs to be a few loyal and trusted men in the forbidden zone. So surely he is there. But what if?
You and I both know that if we found Osama, it would be all over. It being 'every reason' we are over there. GWBush's war would be declared over and our President would focus more closely on the domestic narratives he believes he has a better chance at controlling. And then so what if there was another mastermind?
Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you Anwar Al-Awlaki.
What do I expect you to do about it? I expect you to remember you are an American and for that reason you are a target of his holy war. And if you cannot remember his name, or the names of the hundreds of his closest followers, maybe you can remember that he exists, is connected and has some time to become a mastermind. Maybe you can remember that the ending purposes of our global war on the Jihadis is not merely a convenient narrative that conforms to a dramatic arc - that it is full of reality and therefore unpredictable and messy. It requires work to combat it, deal with the facts of it, communicate the truth of it. It requires attention to detail, and that if *we* are to be organized and purposeful that we require loyalty when our leader communicates and trust when he doesn't. But for us, as for everyone, such matters take time to establish and maintain.
And before Obama was elected, I predicted that as Musharraf was a lame duck, we had a bipartisan new front. IE nobody would care much or raise a ruckus if and when we caught Bin Laden in 'off limits' territory of Pakistan.
Now here's the cool thing. Obama is now poised to kick Karzai to the curb, once again and leave him to the crazed warlords. Which is to say that all of the bad blood Obama got for disssing McChrystal, Eikenberry et al, is now erased in the political victory of finding OBL somewhere other than Afghanistan. Land war in Asia? Now who has the last laugh. It is the mighty Obama who, never admitting to standing on the shoulders of GWBush, has now captured all the geopolitical glory he really cares about. So what if the Middle East goes to shit? We got Bin Laden!
But surely even Obama could not be blind the the fact that Hamas rued the day. They had the nerve to call him a great warrior. Hoo boy. Is there any question that these fools need to be restrained? I can't think of any reaction that I've heard from Israel on the news. Hmm.
So the SEALs ripped into Abbottabad, now synomomous with 'spider hole' and took OBL's compound apart, got the intel goods and shot the bastard in the head, along with all of his minions and immediate family. I wonder if they were dumped into the ocean as well. Probably not. Which leaves something of an interesting question about how many of the dead flunkies were left about on the floor, and who is going to miss them.
But the bigger question is who in the ISI is now a little bit panicked. There has got to be some forensic evidence the team picked up which could lead to clues about who was running to the store for groceries and video tapes. And of course now that the US has the computers and files and whatnot, it's just a matter of time before more sluething yeilds more results. It is becoming clear that this is Obama's military style, which makes sense in the Ronald Reagan worldview of secret engagements with only the most special type of boots on the ground. I have growing confidence that such matters will work.
It is also interesting to note that the tweeters who didn't realize exactly what those helicopters and explosions were on the fateful night suggested that it might be a drone attack. It means that Abbottabad must have gotten one or two in the prior week, because you want that kind of misdirection when you're about to pull a covert op. Get people used to thinking they know what's up.
All in all, I really hope some of the shooters picked up their shell casings. They would go really nice on eBay.
Back when I was considering rescuing hiphop from itself, I wrote a poem in the mode of Public Enemy's 'Don't Believe the Hype'. It started like this and went downhill from there:
don't forget the nukes
I never forget the nukes completely, but sometimes I need to be reminded. This morning, waiting for a doctor's care I watched the following video.
It rather hit me like a ton of bricks that the possibility for a massive explosion was possible and covered up. It reminded me of the salient phrase from last week which will get into Cobb's Rules. Don't plan for the small emergency, plan for the Black Swan emergency. When all of your emergency plans rule out the unthinkable, it means you haven't done enough thinking. And the inevitable result is that you cover your ass, lie and fudge. That creates risk by definition, and when you hide that risk you don't get to choose whose life it affects. That's where my head is at these days - the consequences of not thinking of the biggest big picture - of not considering your own mortality in it all. So it does not surprise me that the Party official who covered up the scope of the disasters committed suicide.
I think all of us have, or should have after watching this documentary instead of something dumb and funny on television, a deep sense that we should be getting rid of nuclear weapons. It is a political consensus that is awaiting some common sense talk. When you recognize that 600,000 Soviets fought in the war against Chernobyl we shouldn't have any problem or fear making similar efforts in containing proliferation.