Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Next Reality Show: Nation Trading

Here's an interesting idea.

I have a suggestion to help... solve global [financial] imbalances — population swapping (if successful it would also make a great reality TV show).

Consider this — the average European saves 11.5% of their income. But the average American saves nothing. So, if we replaced 106 million Europeans with Americans, the US household saving rate would rise to 4%. And the European saving rate would drop to 7.5%. Suddenly, we have a European consumer boom, a sustainable US saving rate and a significant reduction in global imbalances...

But I doubt that even [Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon] Brown would take this suggestion seriously — to start, where are we going to find 106 million Americans who have their own passports? |Whiskey and Gunpowder|
Ouch.

Monday, August 28, 2006

US foments civil strife in Iraq?

Juan Cole has posted an excerpt from the new book Perilous Power: The Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War, and Justice that illuminates Washington's role in heightening ethnic tensions in Iraq to advance its own agenda.
[W]hen all is said and done, Washington's only trump card in Iraq is going to be the sectarian and ethnic divisions among Iraqis, which the Bush administration is exploiting in the most cynical way according to the most classical of all imperial recipes: "Divide and rule." This is what Washington's proconsuls in Baghdad, from L. Paul Bremer to Khalilzad, have tried their best to put in place and take advantage of.

Seen in this light, the present flare-up in sectarian tensions is a godsend for Washington, to the point that many Iraqis suspect that U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies stand behind the worst sectarian attacks....

However, Washington is playing with fire: The sectarian feud suits its designs, but only provided that it is kept within limits. It is not in the United States' interests for Iraq to be carved up into three separate parts, as has been advocated cynically in the U.S. media by self-proclaimed "experts" and as neocons and friends believe is the second-best outcome, short of safe U.S. control over a unified Iraq. Not only would that actually be a recipe for a protracted civil war, but it would make U.S. control over the bulk of Iraqi oil that is located in the Shiite-majority South even more uncertain. Washington's best interest is therefore to foster the sectarian feud at a controllable level that suits its "divide and rule" policy, without letting it get out of control and turn into a most perilous civil war.

A federal Iraq, with a loose central government, could fit neatly with this design, provided it were accepted by all major Iraqi actors (which is quite difficult), but an Iraq torn apart could be a disaster -- all the more so that it could trigger a dangerous regional dynamic. (Think of the Shiite-populated eastern province of the Saudi kingdom where the bulk of oil reserves is concentrated.) |Informed Comment|

It would be hilarious in a darkly comic sort of way if the Iraq war (sold to the American people as the war that would pay for itself) actually led to the breakdown of the entire global petrochemical distribution system and the end of our suburban way of life.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Are Tasers a Hazard to Public Health?


Back in March I cited an article that stated 148 people had been killed by tasers in the last 7 years and then stated that "if the alternative [to the taser] is being shot 22 times by the police....I'll take the taser option every time."

But I recently ran across an article by Mark Silverstein and Mindy Barton of the Colorado ACLU that makes me wonder if my flippant comment above is accurate. Apparently, many of the people who die from tasers are already in custody and do not present a threat to law enforcement that would otherwise be met with lethal force.
[M]ore than 200 persons have died shortly after being shocked by law enforcement Tasers....The number of Taser-associated deaths has steadily increased. There were 4 in 2001; 13 in 2002; 20 in 2003; 57 in 2004; 73 in 2005; and an additional 44 so far in 2006.

Most of the deceased posed no serious physical threat to police. Many were extremely agitated or intoxicated. Some had underlying heart problems. Taser International has reported that 80 percent of suspects shocked by Tasers were not brandishing any weapon.

Before the death toll mounts any higher, law enforcement agencies must... immediately stop using Tasers in situations that do not present a substantial threat of death or serious bodily injury.|Rocky Mountain News|
While I'm in favor of police using less-than-lethal technology, I think that caution is warranted given rapid rise in taser deaths. As tasers become more widespread, it seems reasonable that the taser death rate will go even higher.

It's one thing if the police use tasers as an alternative to firearms and lethal force, but quite another if they are using the tasers on people who do not pose a significant threat such as the Wisconsin man who recently died after being tasered on his parent's lawn, or the Rhode Island man who died after being shocked in the booking area of the police station.

Mark Silverstein and Mindy Barton point to new evidence indicating that the taser may be too powerful for use on suspects who do not post a lethal threat.
Taser International has always claimed that Tasers cannot produce enough current to cause fatal heart problems. In 2005, however, a U.S. Army memorandum concluded that Tasers could indeed cause ventricular fibrillation. It therefore recommended against shocking soldiers during training exercises.

Earlier this year, a peer-reviewed forensic engineering journal published a study that tested a Taser and concluded that it discharged current far more powerful than Taser International acknowledged - powerful enough to cause fatal heart disrhythmias.

In May, a biomedical engineering professor reported that Tasers caused the hearts of healthy pigs to stop beating, contradicting earlier Taser International-sponsored studies. |Rocky Mountain News|

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

On Killing Spiders

Spiders who spin webs generally cannot hurt you (at least in North America). It's the hunter spiders that you should beware of.

I only kill spiders if they're indoors, outside I consider them allies against the insect swarms.

But if I have to kill a spider, I spray them with hair spray first. It slows them down and makes them easier to kill. It may also suffocate them, but I'm not sure about that.

Hairspray also slows silverfish down enough to dispose of them easily.

Our new sofa arrived

In domestic news, our sofa arrived last week and we finally got our living room set up. Here's an image of the new arrangement. Sarah said last night that she feels like a grown-up now that we have a house and all.

I've been putting in drainage around the house the past few days. My back was sore at first but I think I'm getting back into shoveling shape. Currently water drains towards the foundation, but I'm working to rectify that with the proper slope and lots of drain tile.

Once I have the slope corrected and everything prepped I'll have some gravel hauled in and get some french drains going.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Wire returns September 10

I'm a huge fan of the Wire, which puts the light into urban blight. Check out the show's website for previews.

I agree with Paul Levinson that what makes The Wire so good is the depth of characterization of the criminals on the show and the murky line between right and wrong.

The (limited) legalization of drugs in season three and the eventual fallout was a brilliant commentary on the futility of the drug war and the ineffectiveness of our political institutions.

Blogger Beta Blah

Is it too much too ask of a free service that I just be able to log in and update my blog without getting the run-around? Sheesh.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Sequestering Carbon

TO follow up on my last post's discussion of the ill effects of global warming, a novel plan to sequester carbon under the sea was recently unveiled.

Is it just me or is this another far-fetched plan to use high-technology to solve the problems of high-technology?

No, it's not just me.

So, the rationalist-positivist mind-set that gave us global warming in the first place - as an unforeseen/unforeseeable by-product of inevitable technological progress, carried forward by the internal-combustion hydrocarbon-fuelled personal engine and its near-universal application, globally - will now give us carbon-sequestration through-technological-manipulation. And screw the dark emptiness under the sea. |Informant38|


Are we really going to go to these lengths to ensure that fossil fuels are in use in perpetuity? You don't HAVE to sequester CO2 from renewable fuels. How about a little of that multi-billion dollar thinking going toward true renewable fuels like large scale non-oilseed biodiesel production or solar-hydrogen. Or is this just a reflection of how much influence the o(i)ligarchy has at Harvard, Columbia and CalTech? |First Comment on Technology Review|

Obesity eclipses malnutrition as public policy concern

While weight is a frequent topic in the image-obsessed US, it's rare that obesity is put into perspective globally beside starvation.
[Professor Barry Popkin from the University of North Carolina] told the International Association of Agricultural Economists the number of overweight people had topped 1bn, compared with 800m undernourished... the change had happened quickly as obesity was rapidly spreading, while hunger was slowly declining among the world's 6.5bn population... "Obesity is the norm globally and under nutrition, while still important in a few countries and in targeted populations in many others, is no longer the dominant disease."

He said the "burden of obesity", with its related illnesses, was also shifting from the rich to the poor, not only in urban but in rural areas around the world. China typified the changes, with a major shift in diet from cereals to animal products and vegetable oils accompanied by a decline in physical work, more motorised transport and more television viewing, he added.|BBC|(emphasis added)
This actually cheers me up a bit. I think that it's easier for governments and the world community to deal with the consequences of people being overweight than it is to deal with the problems that lead to malnutrition. Of course, the global warming effects on agriculture may turn this figure around in a hurry...

Monday, August 14, 2006

Lebanon was practice for Iran

Seymour Hersh is reporting that the Bush Administration encouraged Israel to strike out against Lebanon as a way to put into practice US Air Force theories about the best way to attack Iranian bunkers and infrastructure.

Hersch writes:
The Bush Administration...was closely involved in the planning of Israel’s retaliatory attacks. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah’s heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel’s security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American preëmptive attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground....


“The big question for our Air Force was how to hit a series of hard targets in Iran successfully,” the former senior intelligence official said. “Who is the closest ally of the U.S. Air Force in its planning? ... the Air Force went to the Israelis with some new tactics and said to them, ‘Let’s concentrate on the bombing and share what we have on Iran and what you have on Lebanon.’ ” ...

“The Israelis told us it would be a cheap war with many benefits,” a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said. “Why oppose it? We’ll be able to hunt down and bomb missiles, tunnels, and bunkers from the air. It would be a demo for Iran.”|New Yorker|(emphasis added)


The entire article is worth reading, but this explanation makes Bush's whole low-key demeanor and opposition to a cease-fire intelligible. He didn't want the experiment to end early.

Marc Champion and Guy Chazan report that the US has lost face in the Middle East because of its unwillingness to step in when Israel started dismantling Lebanon.
"The way the U.S. has handled this so far, in failing to seize a moment a few weeks ago when a cease-fire might have been managed, has actually united Shia and Sunni sentiment in the streets against the U.S.," said Steven Simon, a former U.S. National Security Council official and now senior analyst at the Rand Corp. in Washington. By uniting Muslim opinion against it as never before, the U.S. has become less effective in the region, he said. |WSJ| (sub'n req'd)

Hopefully this will make the Administration think more strategically about the fallout from military action against Iran. The difficulties of invading Iran are obvious even to a hard-boiled neo-con like Richard Armitage: “If the most dominant military force in the region—the Israel Defense Forces—can’t pacify a country like Lebanon, with a population of four million, you should think carefully about taking that template to Iran, with strategic depth and a population of seventy million,” Armitage said. |New Yorker|

Juan Cole suggests that US and British forces in Iraq would come under fierce attack and could be overrun in the event of attacks against Iran.
Any US attack on Iran could well lead to the US and British troops in Iraq being cut off from fuel and massacred by enraged Shiites. Shiite irregulars could easily engage in pipeline and fuel convoy sabotage of the sort deployed by the Sunni guerrillas in the north. Without fuel, US troops would be sitting ducks for rocket and mortar attacks that US air power could not hope completely to stop (as the experience of Israel with Hizbullah in Lebanon demonstrates). A pan-Islamic alliance of furious Shiites and Sunni guerrillas might well be the result, spelling the decisive end of Americastan in Iraq. Shiite Iraqis are already at the boiling point over Israel's assault on their coreligionists in Lebanon. An attack on Iran could well push them over the edge. People like Cheney and Bush don't understand people's movements or how they can win. They don't understand the Islamic revolution in Iran of 1978-79. They don't understand that they are playing George III in the eyes of most Middle Eastern Muslims, and that lots of people want to play George Washington. |Informed Comment| (emphasis in original)
One of my former roommates had a degree in Middle Eastern history and once explained to me that the reason Persia lasted so long was that it was mountainous and was very difficult to attack using ground forces. Looking at an atlas showing topography, his analysis is quickly borne out.

I'm not thrilled about Iran or North Korea having the bomb, but I'm also not convinced that military force is the best (or only) answer.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Getting medieval in Mpls

A recent burglarly in South Minneapolis went bad when the intended victims fought back with a sword. While an interesting story, everyone I've talked to about it agrees that it doesn't quite add up. Here's the fight narrative as reported by Jim Adams:
John was visiting the apartment of his friend when someone knocked about 3 a.m. He opened the door, and a man pushed his way in and another put a gun put to his temple.

"I heard the hammer cock," John said.

He and his friend were ordered face down on the floor, while the gunman guarded them. "They were so brazen and belligerent that they fired us up," John said

He said that his friend, who is 26, lean and 6 feet tall, stood and told the burglars to take what they wanted and leave. The bigger gunman swung his handgun at John's friend, who tried to take the gun away.

"As soon as I heard them start wrestling, I went for the sword," John said. He said a burglar near him had picked up the sword, bought by the friend in Germany as a souvenir. The curved steel sword was almost 3 feet long and sheathed in a black wooden scabbard. John said it broke when the burglar smashed it on his head.

"I grabbed the handle, and he picked me up. I pulled out the sword as he dumped me on my head on the floor," John said. "He was bigger than I was, and I started chopping at his legs. I heard another guy coming from behind, and I pulled the [first attacker] in front of me and poked at the other guy with the sword."

The two ran toward the door and got tangled with the other burglars fighting the friend, John said. "I took one wild swing to defend my friend," John said. |Pioneer Press|
My suspicion is that there were drugs in the apartment and that's what the robbery was really about. It seems odd that four guys show up at random at 3 AM to rob two guys. And it seems even more odd for the tenant to grab for the gun, unless he was protecting something else (or hopped up on meth or coke).

If I learn anything more about this case, I'll be sure to post it.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The new way of war

After the announcement of terror attacks on airplanes being intercepted today, I've been thinking about the status of civilians in a war without borders.

Mitch Prothero had an interesting piece a couple of weeks ago for Salon.com where he reported that Hezbollah fighters do NOT hide among civilians. They avoid them.
[Hezbollah] has a clear policy of keeping its fighters away from civilians as much as possible. This is not for humanitarian reasons... but for military ones.

"You can be a member of Hezbollah your entire life and never see a military wing fighter with a weapon," a Lebanese military intelligence official, now retired, once told me. "They do not come out with their masks off and never operate around people if they can avoid it. They're completely afraid of collaborators. They know this is what breaks the Palestinians -- no discipline and too much showing off."

Unlike the fighters in the half dozen other countries where I have covered insurgencies, Hezbollah fighters do not like to show off for the cameras...The Hezbollah guys... know that letting their fighters near outsiders of any kind -- journalists or Lebanese, even Hezbollah supporters -- is stupid. |Salon| (ad-based day pass required)
Thus the Israelis are certainly inflicting collective punishment and the bombing in the cities is punishing Hezbollah supporters, not the fighters.

An op-ed piece in the Guardian explores the role of civilians in supporting terrorists (and insurgents generally).
These non-state actors [or terrorists] are fighting among the people not only in order to hide, literally and figuratively, beneath the radar screen of the conventional army, but because their main objective in fighting is the will of these people: they are seeking to win them over, or at least to achieve their tacit support, knowing that if [the terrorists] have the people on their side they will eventually attain their political goals - of removing the conventional political and military forces attacking them in the name of states and order, and then instating their alternative.

The political implications of this new reality are deep and disturbing - though once again, they should be no surprise - reflecting that despite declarations of "war on terror" and the like, war is no longer an option to get out of a political problem - at least not for as long as our militaries are still structured to fight an industrial battle against a nonexistent Soviet enemy, and the political-military way of thinking about using force is still based on [outmoded] models of industrial war.

Moreover, Iraq, Afghanistan and now Lebanon are showing that... even if there is a willingness to unleash the full might of the conventional army...and cause massive death and destruction, it simply does not work....

[W]e need to start thinking completely differently about both, and demand that our politicians and military leaders do the same. Industrial war is dead, and we the people need to be defended from war amongst the people.|Guardian|


In a recent post about war atrocities I asked if we could leave the civilians out of the combat, but upon further reflection, I think the very question was naïve.

War is no longer about armies facing off on fields of battle, but about anything that threatens the current political order. The war on terrorism is a war on all sub-state actors, in other words, a war on anyone who wishes to change the current political reality.

Governments are increasingly using tactics of surveillance, eavesdropping, and intimidation against political enemies. This new face of war encompasses all conflicts along a spectrum from civil disobedience and economic warfare to organized crime and indiscriminate bombing. Civilians are part and parcel with this new type of conflict.

There may still be wars, but it seems likely that nations will use proxies in the future more than their own armies. (Indeed, if the US had used a proxy to invade Iraq, we wouldn't be tied down in a quagmire with most of our combat units in small area where they could easily be wiped out by a nuclear weapon.... but that's a discussion for another day.)

I'm glad that this new type of conflict hasn't touched me yet, but I don't think my immunity will last forever.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Iraqis debate partition

The LA Times is reporting that certain groups within Iraq are proposing that the country be split into independent sectors, largely along sectarian lines, to decrease the sectarian violence that is laying waste to the population.

Abdelaziz Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq... advocates the creation of a nine-province district in the largely peaceful south, home to 60% of the country's proven oil reserves. Sunni leaders see nothing but greed in the new push — the Shiites, they say, are taking advantage of the escalating violence to make an oil grab. Iraq's oil is concentrated in the north and south; much of the Sunni-dominated west and northwest is desolate desert, devoid of oil and gas. "Controlling these areas will create a grand fortune that they can exploit," said Adnan Dulaimi, a leading Sunni Arab politician. "Their motive is that they are thirsty for control and power."

Still, even nationalists who favor a united Iraq acknowledge that sectarian warfare has gotten so out of hand that even the possibility of splitting the capital along the Tigris, which roughly divides the city between a mostly Shiite east and a mostly Sunni west, is being openly discussed. "Sunnis and Shiites are both starting to feel that dividing Baghdad will be the solution," said Ammar Wajuih, a Sunni politician. |LA Times|
I've mentioned this as a possible solution before, but I see that Juan Cole thinks it is a recipe for disaster.
The Sunni Arabs will never, ever accept being reduced to a minority with no access to Iraq's oil resources (which are mainly in the Shiite south and the Kurdish north), and any such partition is a recipe for a long drawn out civil war.

I have a sinking feeling that Iraq is over with, and that we're just standing around watching the train wreck unfold. |Informed Comment|
Actually, let me amend my last statement. All of US foreign policy is a recipe for disaster.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Shut yor piehole

Joshua Norton once observed that if the rest of the world would leave the Israelis and the Palestinians alone, one would do away with the other pretty quickly and there would be peace after that. Rather than helping to solve the problems there, the rest of the world essentially ensures that it keeps on a constant simmer.

Simon Jenkins is similarly upset with the punditry and their failure to say anything intelligent about the current conflict between these ancient enemies.
If outsiders had a solution to the argument between Israel and its neighbours, it would surely have been found by now. The world's mightiest powers and the most brilliant statesmen (not to mention the rest) have devoted themselves to the case....Western diplomatic and military adventurism in Iraq and Afghanistan is a catastrophic failure. What is astonishing is that the west's commentariat should goad its leaders into more of the same. Neo-imperialism, reborn in the uniform of world policeman, is now a raging virus. It is hard to imagine a swifter way of spreading the poison of the Middle East conflict than for western troops to land once again in Lebanon. |Guardian| (emphasis added)

Different war, same atrocities

Our society is in the midst of a long-simmering debate over the legal use of force and the permissibility of torture. Allegations of atrocities in Iraq and extra-legal actions in the war on terror are forcing us to consider what sort of society we are and what sort of society we want to be.

An article in the August 6th edition of the LA Times by Nick Turse and Deborah Nelson makes us realize that these atrocities are nothing new and neither are military cover-ups of atrocities.

The [recently de-classified] files are part of a once-secret archive, assembled by a Pentagon task force in the early 1970s, that shows that confirmed atrocities by U.S. forces in Vietnam were more extensive than was previously known.

The documents detail 320 alleged incidents that were substantiated by Army investigators - not including the most notorious U.S. atrocity, the 1968 My Lai massacre.

Though not a complete accounting of Vietnam war crimes, the archive is the largest such collection to surface to date. About 9,000 pages, it includes investigative files, sworn statements by witnesses and status reports for top military brass.

The records describe recurrent attacks on ordinary Vietnamese - families in their homes, farmers in rice paddies, teenagers out fishing. Hundreds of soldiers, in interviews with investigators and letters to commanders, described a violent minority who murdered, raped and tortured with impunity.

Abuses were not confined to a few rogue units, a Times review of the files found. They were uncovered in every Army division that operated in Vietnam.

Retired Brig. Gen. John H. Johns, a Vietnam veteran who served on the task force, says he once supported keeping the records secret but now believes they deserve wide attention in light of alleged attacks on civilians and abuse of prisoners in Iraq.

"We can't change current practices unless we acknowledge the past," says Johns, 78. |Truthout| or |LA Times| (emphasis added)


William Tecumseh Sherman once said that war is brutality and you cannot refine it. There's something inherently vicious and taking human life. However, is it too much to ask that warfare be (largely) limited to combatants?

Post-Modern, Post-National, Post-Progressive?

In the course of doing research on another topic, I ran across some discussions of progressivism. Eisuke Sakakibara suggests that the entire Cold War can be viewed as a battle between two wings of progressivism; capitalist progressivism and communist/socialist progressivism.
The Cold War was nothing but another civil war within the West or, more precisely, within the Western ideology of progressivism. The demise of socialism and the end of the Cold War released the world from a Western civil war over differing versions of progressivism to confront the more fundamental issues of environmental pollution and the peaceful coexistence of different civilizations. |Foreign Affairs|
John Fonte suggests that the next great social awakening is post-national progressivism.
[Modernity may be witnessing] not the final triumph of liberal democracy, but the emergence of a new transnational hybrid regime that is post-liberal democratic, and in the American context, post-Constitutional and post-American. This alternative ideology...constitutes a universal and modern worldview that challenges both the liberal democratic nation-state in general and the American regime in particular....

Talk in the West of a "culture war" is somewhat misleading, because the arguments over transnational vs. national citizenship, multiculturalism vs. assimilation, and global governance vs. national sovereignty are not simply cultural, but ideological and philosophical. They pose Aristotle's question: "What kind of government is best?"...

The challenge from transnational progressivism to traditional American concepts of citizenship, patriotism, assimilation, and the meaning of democracy itself is fundamental.

If our system is based not on individual rights (as defined by the U. S. Constitution) but on group consciousness (as defined by international law); not on equality of citizenship but on group preferences for non- citizens (including illegal immigrants) and for certain categories of citizens; not on majority rule within constitutional limits but on power-sharing by different ethnic, racial, gender, and linguistic groups; not on constitutional law, but on transnational law; not on immigrants becoming Americans, but on migrants linked between transnational communities; then the regime will cease to be "constitutional," "liberal," "democratic," and "American," in the understood sense of those terms, but will become in reality a new hybrid system that is "post-constitutional," "post-liberal," "post-democratic," and "post-American." |Link|
As globalization increases in pace the relevance of nation-states seems to decrease. The flow of capital, labor, and goods means that citizens, corporations, and NGO's are increasingly less tied to geographical and political boundaries.

Of course, there are a lot of forces at play and some of them militate against the development of transnational progressivism, but I think it's at least an interesting possibility.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Carbon isotope ratio testing and Cycling

While I have a couple of graduate degrees now, there are certainly aspects of science that are beyond my grasp. The Floyd Landis debacle has exposed by ignorance when it come to chemistry, but I found this post to be somewhat instructive on how Landis' test results tend to prove that he took a banned substance.

I find the conspiracy theories hard to swallow. This lab test is going to be the subject of litigation and if there is any wrong-doing, I'm confident it will be noticed.

I thought this comment was scathing:

Boohoooo it's the french's fault, they hate us, Floyd is innocent, he's not a cheater, we are the best
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahah
Pathetic
but very funny |Link|


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Life in the shadow of war

This weekend, in between going to wedding receptions and ripping out thornbushes, I watched the Errol Morris' documentary Fog of War.

One of the things I that stood out to me was McNamara's statement that the generals wanted to go to war with the Soviet Union because:

1. War between the US and USSR was inevitable.
2. The US should strike while it had missile superiority.

If you assume that proposition 1 is true, then proposition 2 makes sense.

Of course, proposition 1 turned out to be pure manure. But it's a reasonable mistake for a military mind. McNamara (for all of his flaws) realized the danger of this line of thinking and was able to hold the Joint Chiefs in check at least on the pre-emptive strike issue.

I've been thinking about these propositions in terms of the Israeli-Lebanese border debacle. If you have an enemy with whom reconciliation is impossible, then there is no hope for peace. But how can we know that reconciliation is impossible?

If there is any hope of peace, then certainly it must be seized. Perhaps it is our fate in the 21st century to be constantly on the edge of war, dancing along the fine razor's edge of mass destruction and we will enternally be unable to find a complete peace, one free from the threat of war.

Benjamin Franklin once said that there was never a good war or a bad peace. The counter-argument to that statement is the realization that Neville Chamberlain ceded most of Eastern Europe to Hitler and failed to enforce the (arguably unjust) Versailles accord thus ushering in the bloodiest war in human history.

The stakes are high for our leaders, never has the world been so populous, and we've reached new heights in our ability to inflict mass destruction.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies? World War Three

Newt Gingrich is proclaiming that we are on the verge of a new global conflagration.

I do think that Dubya, along with his English and Israeli peons, have radicalized the world to a point where peaceful co-existence is becoming less tenable every day.

After the Vietnam war, the Vietnamese went on with their lives and forgot about us. But there will be fallout from our latest set of (totally bungled)imperial adventures and I don't think the radical Islamists are going to be content with letting us go our separate ways.

The world has always been a dangerous place but I think Dubya has done nothing but added fuel to the flames.