Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Game Of Kings

Decision: Reinforce US forces in the Baghdad region to destroy the Sunni insurgents and force a separation between Maliki (Washington) and the Shia militia and political leaders. Why the latter decision? Because Bush's illision about Maliki is not tenable without it.

Problem: Maliki is not George Washington. He is only disguised as George Washington. He is in fact, just another Shia political and militia leader, and not the strongest either. (...)

Because of the rich Bushian fantasy life it will be demanded in the New Plan that Maliki distance himself, and indeed fight, if necessary, to disarm and render impotent Shia Arab militias. He is INCAPABLE OF DOING THAT!! He is one of the Shia Arab leaders.

: The King has ordered me to seek out the secret general of the Jesuits and kill him.
Porthos: You should let the secret general worry about that.
Aramis: Therein is the problem. I am he. I am the general of the order of Jesuits.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Gone for an early shower

Of course, you would never know if this blog had closed down or not. But a lot of people are signing off, as Digby laments.

I suspect that many people think that it is now all over bar the shouting, as Democratic control of the Congress restores oversight and checks and balances limit the scope of the Imperial Presidency. I further suspect that many people are wrong, and that the wrecking of America in the last six years is not easily reversed. I predict a panic within the next six months as people begin to realize that the system is no longer responding to the controls.


SCOTUS is still nuts,

there is still a war in Iraq, and the Stalingrad-on-the-Tigris strategic weakness still applies,

the press are uniform, remotely controlled and hostile to any kind of initiative that hasn't been OKayed at the White House,

the Federal government is still run by partisan, evangelical hacks, instead of by experts, so expect another Katrina,

the deficit is out of control,

the economy is japanifying, hollowing itself out to low labor cost outsourcers,

everyone hates each other and will fight to the death rather than admit they were wrong.

A better recipe for breaking the Union it is hard to imagine.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Three planes an hour for three hours

There is a temptation, and a duty, and even Occam's razor to consider that events such as this are likely to have been staged by the security forces or by politicians to accrue greater power to themselves.

But in this case I don't believe the British government would be so stupid. The patience of the British public is not infinite. The British Civil Service fetishizes stability above nearly all other virtues, and the possibility of widespread BNP violence can't be ruled out.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Haditha it coming

Because puns are for bitterness.

To some extent we still live in a feudal society, however rational and capitalist we are. The pay for military service is not the cash-per-hour payment, it is respect. And afterward, respect entails preference. Hence the feudal principle of reward for service in war endures.

What does it mean for the principle of respect to have a presidential candidate's service record smeared by the Swift Boat Liars? It means that the country agrees that the service record counts for nothing and that there is no value in keeping it clean. And so we arrive at Haditha.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Getting Paid

If Sir Christopher Meyer has gone to the bother of writing a book, then he should be paid for it. A Labour leader ought to recognise this principle. Of course, what Prescott means is that Meyer shouldn't have written the book in the first place, but in that case he should come out and say so.

To say that someone should write a book and not get paid for it is as stupid as saying that the Prime Minister should train an army so that the President of some other country can get it killed.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

No-one sees how bad this is

One of the most important themes of this blog is that America has lost its compact with its military. It has lost the relationship by which young people put their lives at risk in order to serve. Douglas MacArthur saw that this relationship was in danger from the atom bomb, and his response was to insist on using atomic weapons on the battlefield. Why, his argument goes, would soldiers risk everything for the struggle if the country was not willing to commit everything to the struggle in return?

This consideration is peculiar to America. In Europe the experience of mass casualties in World War I had already eroded the compact to the point where war is viewed as only occurring as some inevitable calamity that sweeps all up into itself, not as something in which individuals can choose to play an active part. It is solely a reactive game; where states retain armies they are perceived as having a policing role rather than a role of national survival.

After the blow to the compact delivered by the existence of atomic weapons came the blow of Vietnam. A generation was conscripted into a war that would take their lives yet was not so important that the nation would commit its full force to it. Yet surviving veterans might look to obtaining at least some measure of respect from some quarters of society. Apocryphally, they were derided ("spat at by demonstrators") on their return - an allegation for which there is no evidence - and this legend illustrates that the returning Vietnam veterans did not have the legitimacy of liberators that the GIs of, for example, Omaha Beach had. Yet they had a service record that was respected for itself, albeit not for any greater philosophical value.

After Vietnam, some effort went into reforming the compact. Wars were henceforth to be fought with the minimum of casualties - in Kosovo, apparently, with no casualties at all. The military was to be all-volunteer. Instead of relying on an old boys' network to assure as many vets as possible some kind of minor supervisory position in certain amenable enterprises, with all the scope that entails for partiality, incompleteness and hidden prejudices, military service would be seen as the provider of technical training, citizenship and similar certifiable advantages. Reserve status would supplement civilian pay. Vets would receive respect for their experience and expertise, and via that, for their integrity.

Until Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the hideous gang. The compact has been ripped open on all sides. For a soldier in a hard job the light at the end of the tunnel is extinguished. Stop-loss, and especially stop-loss for reserves means that his service is not getting him (or her, but mostly him) anywhere. Tours in Iraq mean that he is not getting the certifications he expected to have when he eventually leaves the military. And respect for his efforts is absent from the people who sent him there. He is less likely to get respect than a civilian.

You doubt that? Ask Max Cleland. Ask John Kerry. And now, ask John Murtha. Josh Marshall reports that
The House burst into yells and pandemonium. Schmidt was forced to come back to the House floor and ask that her remarks be stricken from the record.
But they still don't get it. It's not about behavior to one veteran congressman being not gentlemanly enough. It's about the troops in the field now and their expectations of their role.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Everybody remembers that one

As we know, the President of Iran has called for Israel to be wiped off the map. The usual suspects have their pat response:
"I have never come across a situation in which the president of a country has said they want to wipe out another country. That is unacceptable."
The unacceptable seems to have been accepted quite a lot. There is quite a number of countries that I can think of that have been wiped off the map. Among them (I will post more when I think of them) are the following - spot the ones that have been wiped on again:

Carthage (146 B.C)
Poland in the nineteenth century.
Apartheid South Africa (non-apartheid S.A. is still there but the bantustans should be shaded in differently these days!)
The Soviet Union
North and South Rhodesia
Tanganyika and Nyasaland
Schleswig-Holstein, Prussia, Saxony, Hanover, Bohemia, etc.
Aragon, Castile, Catalonia, etc.
Mercia, Anglia, Northumbria and Wessex
The Confederated States
Macedonia, Montenegro, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia
The Ottoman Empire

Some of these we don't miss; others, like Poland, were an international disgrace. But they only remember the first one.

Now I don't think Israel should be wiped off the map. After all, if it were, where could the Palestinians have right of return to? But that's not what is on offer; what is more likely is the bombing of Iran.

What Blair is thinking, what Bush is thinking and what the president of Iran is thinking are all subjects for speculation in later posts. But this is the moment of prestidigitation, when the fork is being bent on the belt buckle and the threat of genocide is being conjured out of thin air to distract us from seeing it done.