Postmodern classic?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What is the future of war?

UPDATE: This TCS Daily article by Michael Vlahos is an excellent summation of some of these trends from a Roman perspective, well worth your time. Ran into it via this excellent Chicago Boyz post by James McCormick of similar note. In addition, some thoughts at Winds of Change about another theory, I've put a few comments there.

And of course, most importantly! The Monty Python revolutionary model of the 'People's Front of Judea' via Youtube...

Original Post: There are some interesting thoughts on what the future face of war will look like. The current conflict in Lebanon sheds some interesting light on what is good and bad, victorious or failure in the current arena of the world. There's quite a bit of interesting ink spilt on the low benchposts for success (ie not being destroyed) that allowed Hassan Nasrallah of Lebanese Hezbollah to claim his victory.

Current events aside, there is this ongoing presumption that war will continue to develop in this manner. I paraphrase Kissinger when he said that in modern warfare a 'conventional Army fails if it does not win, while a guerilla army succeeds if it not destroyed.' I like Martin Van Creveld's reverse of Clausewitz even better, which I roughly paraphrase here as 'Von Clausewitz described war as the continuation of politics by other means, while guerillas use politics as the continuation of war by other means.'

This post at Global Guerillas perfectly captures this viewpoint, that we are 'Playing at War'. It's a succinct abstract of the major obstacles faced by modern warfighters. I don't want to reproduce it here, since I'd have to reprint the whole thing for you to get it, so please read it. It's quite a succinct and logical article, showing how current warfare is becoming hitched more and more to these abstract values almost entirely unrelated to the actual work of war. A guerilla must leverage the weaknesses of his enemy, most decisively in the gray realm of 'public opinion' and 'public perception'. It's the logical continuation to the 'People's War' of Mao and his successors, adapted to the context of the post-modern battlefield.

I should explain myself on that account, though, before I continue. There are many theories trying to explain the warfare I describe above as 'post-modern' (please forgive my lazy 'Wiki' research). Currently popular is one called '4th Generation Warfare', which is supposed to be the counter to the People's War, first successfully championed by Mao. Ideas matter, and to me '4GW' is just a twist on Mao, sharing the same intellectual framework and assumptions, which I have written about before and reject. To be brief, one sees that foremost among these assumptions is the historicist presumption of material progress in the Hegelian sense, their idea being that war also falls into a rational developmental pattern that can be defined arbitrarily by 'generations'. One must conclude that the proponents of this theory either share that basic philosophical agreement or are in ignorance of it's origins- characterizing to me, the weakness of their vague post-modern argument. As you may conclude, I love that word, 'post-modern' (re: the title of this blog), and do throw it around a lot. But not just for style- I believe it has meaning, mostly being the conceit that we've somehow divorced ourself from the past by entering an intellectual arena of the future. That's not the orthodox definition, but to me it epitomizes all the other issues associated in that kind of 'PoMo' conceit- radical human rights, secular denigration of religion, cultural relativism, etc... all concluding in nihilism (even if well-intentioned), from the point of view of a classicist or similar perspective to myself.

So what is it? Have we entered a new phase of warfare? Are we doomed to be stuck into these narrow and easily manipulated afflictions that are identified in the article from Global Guerillas? If you buy into the nihilist death pact of post-modernism, then the answer is yes. Is there an alternative, if one would avoid this?

One of the books that has influenced me the most is Robert D. Kaplan's 'Coming Anarchy'. Kaplan traveled to many different fields of war and conflict as a journalist. In describing the places in question, he made connections to a living history among different peoples and ethnicities that continued it's seemingly primitive existence on the outskirts of civilization . Often declared dead, but seemingly resurgent at any conflict, this 'history' still lives with us. This fresh perspective led to both praise and criticism, as you can imagine. Reading him and a few others, I found myself delving into the Classics of Greece and Rome, to discover the wisdom of our predecessors. I would be very presumptuous to try to summarize their lessons in a sentence or paragraph, due to the varied richness of their outlook and experiences. Because what I found was a refreshingly open and practical outlook, compared to the narrow focus of my organized studies in the formal education system. In this world of slaves and empires of long past, they somehow had the same problems of today.

In this context, the terrorist armies of Hezbollah and their compatriots echo that of the tribal chieftains bordering the empires of the past. The vacillation of the elites in the Republics of Rome and Greece led to the creation of opportunity for Alexander or Caesar to fill the vacuum by forcefully solving their problem to much acclaim. Great men, to be sure; but most definitely not interested in some of the other more valuable aspects of civilized life, such as liberty (or due process as we understand it). This paradox was a central conflict of the political and philosophical aspects of Western governance, and seemingly stays so today.

To return to the original question on what future warfare might look like, we see these trends of restriction and artificiality becoming dominant in the execution of contemporary warfare. What we don't see, if we lose the historical context, is how the rewards (basic economic/game theory) become even greater for the participants involved to ignore, if not reject entirely, these arbitrary restrictions on their conduct. The odd part is how we expect the other side to willfully disobey, yet somehow still maintain our obedience to these outdated ideals. We have this dominant legalistic attitude that perpetuates belief in ineffectual and antagonistic bodies like the UN, which you can see in debates such as those of unilateralism vs. multilateralism. Or what has become the perverted ideal of 'humanitarian warfare', seemingly held by the world's elite's and dominating the ethos of the UN. Much more likely is an even bloodier 21st century, explaining that selection on my booklist (which I'd like to review if it ever gets here!).

The comfort of wealth, along with the short-sightedness of Eurocentrism, leave us crippled to view the world through the intellectual prism of the past 100 years, leading us down the road to repeat their ineffectual disaster. Our civilization and wealth don't come free! Just as Macedonia picked up the pieces of Greece following the disaster of the Pelopponesian War, or as Caesar won the Civil War, we must follow the dictum laid down in the times of Sun Tzu.

'The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence, it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.'

Based on my experiences, I believe that the 'Art of War' is being relearned and maintained as we speak, even if begrudgingly. I feel sorry for those who would restrict themselves to the unworkable mess of post-modern warfare, mistaking that for the mess and disappointment to come when these artificial restrictions crash to the ground, along with their well-meant ideals.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Military humor

Don't fall for it! Oh, the horror! (via B5)

Friday, August 25, 2006

A few excerpts of the week in news

Google must have bought Blogger/Blogspot, since I see their logos when I sign in now. I don't really like that, the idea that they control and track certain aspects of searching, and now blogging. For example, LGF has a longstanding feud that they decide which of the blogs they list by partisan screening. So I use Yahoo search for my primary now.

What's going on here... well, there have been some great articles on TCS. Arnold Kling talks a little more about the increasing populist differences with elite opinion (and which supports my devaluation of language argument below), and Josh Manchester has an excellent article creating a new voter demographic which we should look out for- the 'Unfrozen Caveman Voter'. I think his barbecues might be a bit different from the ones I've been to, but the point still holds. Because vote they will, and it will be interesting to see the results. Michael Steele's race for the Senate in Maryland is definitely one to watch, because people are relooking the issues of race and economics. Feminism is another side issue, and while I might not agree with everything, I always like to look at articles like this as a relief from the majority of emasculating man-hating trash you see in other places. It raises common-sense objections to the haughty moralizing that passes for 'social science'. Another interesting series to see is the Bag Blog's series on home schooling (1, 2, 3).

And into the international arena we find people discussing Iraq and Iran. It's important not to raise strawmen- substituting weak arguments as representative of an opposition as a way to discredit them, but I must include this article as a peculiarly poor example of shoddy logic and sloppy reasoning. Mr. Karetsky of The Times (UK) seems to think that we should admit defeat and let Iran get the bomb as a way to integrate them into the international system. He makes a major errors in his assumption that we seem to have no real options, and that the military option is no good. Don't get me wrong, it's the last option- when negotiations fail. But since I don't see negotiations doing too much right now, I find myself thinking a lot about the military option. And only a fool would concede the use of arms to a low antagonist like Iran.

How are things in Iraq? Not as bad as some say, but not great either. I really appreciate the candor of this book review by Max Boot, discussing Tom Ricks 'Fiasco'- a good book with a bad title, as he says. Obviously, mistakes were made, but we should try to keep perspective when looking at the facts. In the meantime, VDH has an interesting article on the problems we're encountering in the prosecution of the current campaign. A related note is relevant at QandO, discussing terrorism in the context of Dr. Barnett's theories of globalization. And also interesting is George Will's look at Koizumi, in the context of my recent post on Japan's martial ethic and their future as our ally.

Soon I'll be working again and have no time to read all these articles. Can't wait.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Koizumi, War Criminals and the Warrior Code

I visited Japan a few years ago, as I went into the entrance of Yasukuni Shrine I took this picture, a Shinto temple dedicated to the warriors of Japan. Let's just say I wouldn't tell my Chinese friends I went there.

Yes, Yasukuni is in the news again. The outrage of Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visiting the Yasukuni Shrine has started again. It could be a month, a week, or even a couple of days from now, but the shrill moralistic farce that is international politics is gearing up for it.

Howard French of the IHT is a very informed observer of Asian politics, so I'd recommend reading his article as a first stop for an explanation of Yasukuni's place in Japanese politics. It echoes the drumbeat of other Asian countries that felt the sharp edge of Japanese Imperialism not so long ago. The Japanese did some awful things, no doubt- and 14 of these Class 'A' war criminals are interred at this place.

Both my grandparents fought in the Pacific. I try to be an informed reader of history, and as such I know pretty well what happened. Yet warriors should be treated as warriors, something I think even of the Nazi's.

Why is this?

Admittedly, part of this is my Westphalian conceit- the idea that decisions of war are the politician's realm, the soldiers duty is to obey, and the civilians support this or change the government. This doesn't apply to Japan at the time of the 2nd World War, as we know it was members of their military who initiated some of the hostilities- ie the infamous 'Manchurian Incident'. But we have some controversial people in Arlington as well- no war criminals, but I know many Southern people who consider William Tecumseh Sherman a 'war criminal'. No one is saying war doesn't bring out the worst of some people, and that it's not horrible. But we must still uphold the Warrior Code. This is not a 'moral equivalence' copout- they were in the wrong, they lost. But now that the war's over, we have to move on. And a healthy country will defend itself with it's own citizenry. Therefore we shouldn't fall prey to this pedagogic manipulation and criminalize their whole martial ethic by tarring this cultural shrine. The point holds true to my inner core. Don't blame their military, it was the nation that made them fight.

For a glimpse at a possible result of a society lacking these principles, take a quick look at the cancer that Europe has become. Their impotent faith in the UN is laughable, especially in light of France's recent 'contribution to world peace'. Who could they protect? It's hard to imagine something like this happening (if you need a smaller example of martial ethic) in Brussels or any other city there. They've grown fat, lazy and complacent on the security provided for them from outside. Such is life. They epitomize the rot that occurs when the martial ethic slowly fades away, as it has been for most of the past century... if they fight again, it seems more likely that it will be as miserly cowards. I can easily see bloody purges of 'unwanted' elements of their countries. Besides, most of those who would be warriors and not worriers or whiners have already come here to the US.

The martial ethic of the Warrior Code aside, who let's others direct their 'sovereign' issues anyhow? It looks like naked political opportunism to me. Weak governments that have to find external enemies to galvanize their countrymen to confirm their legitimacy. This was the primary reason the Soviet Union and other Communist organizations supported anti-war groups almost from the time they were found- not because they believed in the end of war, but they wanted to subvert and undermine their opponents will to fight in preparation of the conflict to come. No conspiracy theory here, it's all in the Venona files and other very credible sources. I didn't believe it myself, until I confirmed it in more than a few places. This was a conscious effort- part of the struggle to make the individual conform to the collective. An assertion of individuality worth dying for is an obstacle for those who want to destroy it. There lies the martial ethic, which is not the capitalist framework of exploiters (to borrow Marxist-Leninist dogma) manipulating poor and uneducated proles to fight for them 'against their interest'. Stop me if you've heard that one before, or one of it's more recent variants like 'Bush manipulated them to go to Iraq to die for oil'. The Code of the Warrior, epitomizing responsibility and duty, is fundamentally opposed to the primacy of the victim and accompanying blame, that socialism and communism feed off. There's something there, even if we do recognize our necessity to acknowledge the warriors of Russia who we fought against, along this line of thinking. For a more recent example, I think the rebuilding of Iraq is centered on instilling this code of duty and loyalty to the servants of Iraq in the military, along with ensuring that they are a source of pride to their citizenry.

But to come back to Yasukuni, there is one question that strikes me the most. What is Japan now, if not a loyal ally and faithful friend? Are we to sit aside and let others shame them? If I was a person of importance, I would visit the shrine as an American warrior- honoring the warriors there, supporting the Japanese people together. What a symbol that would make! I think MacArthur would appreciate it. Let the rest of them wallow in victimhood.

However, that wouldn't make me too popular. Jeesh, how many Koreans would threaten my life.... I'd be John Bolton of Asia, minus the 'tache. Ah yes, that's why I'm not a politician. I have much to learn...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

When you should be doing something else....

There's so much this morning, so much I shouldn't be wasting my time on it... ah hell. Here I go.

Cathy Seipp anticipated my previous blogpost (below) about the devaluation of language by political rhetoric. She, of course, gets it a little more concise than I did, even though I prefer my clunky logic. Mark Steyn is another of my favorites, also talking about how 'multiculturalism' can be so harmful. My friend Caesar is right, you have to learn to filter it out. Or you suffer from 'Idiot Fatigue', only countered by involvement in civil debate, at places like Dinocrat which I think is an excellent compromise of the viewpoints.

Starting at the world at large but coming back to home:

Who really won the recent conflict in Lebanon? Or more accurately, who's in a better position for the next outbreak of hostilities? Tigerhawk's article is a good overview, linking to this article in the Jerusalem Post about similar misperceptions following the Yom Kippur War of '73. Even with practical problems involving the recent experiences in Gaza of the past few years, the financial markets behavior, while I wouldn't go so far as to say predictive, are probably quite indicative of local perceptions. Either way Israel, and the world community, shouldn't depend on France and the EU for practical help. One thing that the international community right now definitely is, is divided. I hope (and I'm pretty sure that) my Israeli friends won't trust them for their security.

Europe is having some economic problems at the moment, besides typical impotence and idealism- or more incidences of fake journalism. Not just the typical 1930's allusions we American's are so fond of, even if they are increasingly accurate. Many educated people, though, worry not that they won't do anything about their demographic shifts, but rather that they will fall back on their long history of bloody purges, which would be interesting, to say the least. However, it does make me worry that it will be difficult to find a practical solution for Iran and increasingly commits us to armed conflict them. Paradoxical, that- how deterrence require a strong military to prevent the utilization of it.

Coming back to the US, everyone is looking into their crystal balls and putting in their predictions for the '06 elections. Too soon to say. I'm going to try hard not to get pulled into the partisan thing and keep as objective on that as I can, but even with the revised posturing on Iraq (which I'm quite skeptical about). Truth is, there's some good news that is curiously unreported, and continuing progress in programs like Welfare Reform. The President isn't on another planet, although some like to think so. It's always interested to see how people of the other perspective cover these same issues.

I will highlight this E.J. Dionne article, him being someone who I particularly disagree with quite consistently- even if he writes well, about the intellectual traditions of political debate. He concedes that his brand of 'Liberalism' is losing the intellectual arguments of the day due to a lack of rigorous argument. I quite sympathize with this, not just because I think his arguments are highly unsupported! But to the idea of non-polarized, civil, rational dialogue between differing political viewpoints- his column is a step forward. His side will need that if they don't reproduce enough- something that must be considered in the dominant laissez faire culture of the times. Maybe (just maybe) that might have something to do with abortion and gay culture? Not that there's anything wrong with that (oh no!)....

I'm going to close with this glorious salute to America, recalling Mount Suribachi and the journalist who preserved our effort for the ages.

'Perverse of the Converse', or the price of Hypocrisy

The Converse of an argument, not to be confused with Converse shoes, is not the exact opposite of an argument, but the inference of that argument if it is reversed. For more, see the referenced Wikipedia article.

The converse argument is important to me, as it sort of represents the direction my line of thinking has traveled over these past few years. Not to bore you with all that, my stultifying boring and navel-gazing psychodramatic analyses, I'll try to focus on political arguments.

I had a funny conversation with some family members the other night about 'fascism', which has to be one of the most overused and underdefined words in contemporary English. Somehow it's okay to call Bush one, but not head-chopping Arabs focused on restoring some half-baked delusions of a religious-based 7th century dominion. Being so cheapened by rhetorical excess, the shock and shame that one should associate with something like 'fascism' has predictably diminished. So I grasped the converse argument, that if politically braindead people are still using 'fascist' as invective, then it must be a good thing. By being called a 'fascist', this must mean you are a focus of hate for the like of such impotent activistists (not a misspelling), or equivalent political representatives. If these people dislike you, then you must be doing something right. You not only reject their argument, but their assumptions and inferences. What else are they misleading you about?

As you can see, this is not restricted to those who scream 'fascism' at everyone who disagrees with them. This starts to get problematic when you consider other portions of the emotive criticism that certain people fling at their opponents. Epithets like 'racist' seem to no longer hold the definition of 'apartheid-like supremacists bent on maintaining their rule by oppressive violence' but fast approach the popular joke that a racist is merely 'a conservative who won an argument with a liberal'. What a 'Liberal' is I'll have to hold back to later, now is not the time for a discussion of 17th and 18th century British economic philosophers.... but it's the same principle (Anti-semitism is another, but don't have time for Mel Gibson and Hezbollah this evening, thanks for asking).

The people constantly using these epithets are only barely veiling their sophistric hypocrisy, or unwillingness to fairly argue. 'Anti-war' is another favorite. I think 'on the other side' is a little more accurate, such as the case of Orwells' conclusion that those who were anti-war during WW2 must therefore be objectively pro-fascist (in the true sense of the word). I know quite a few readers will object to that, even if they know I'm not questioning their patriotism or free speech. Most also know that the military man with a classic perspective realizes that to maintain peace, one must be willing to wage war. A temporary cessation of hostilities is never static from the military POV.

Obviously, it's harder to sit down and formulate a rational critique. So much easier to yell some inflammatory rhetoric, as those who frequent here know quite well I am also prone to at times. But if only we can step back from this and have an honest dialogue... and with some (if not most) people, we can. Witnessing the radicals in our midst, from both sides even though I focus the majority of my contempt for those of the left, we must condemn them for cheapening the dignity of this process and polarizing the national debate.

Words mean something. Save them for the appropriate time. Maybe some day they'll mean something again.

What's Al Anbar like?

For a really good slice of what Civil Affairs does in a combat zone like Iraq, check out this interview by Blackfive.

Life in progress, a bit more busy than I would have liked, but things have to happen. As SSG Gilliland would say- 'Move fast, shoot straight, and leave the rest to the counsellors in 10 years.' Haha....

Sunday, August 13, 2006


I linked to a different and incomplete version of this earlier. Say what you want, the blogosphere produces some very interesting analysis. For anybody who is interested in the difference between how media cover the 'news' in places like the Middle East, or in this case, Lebanon, they will be quite shocked. Please read this story of the 'Green Helmet Man', if you want to understand my aversion to journalists (via EU Referendum). This has direct relevance to how societies communicate during conflicts.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

A view from the office

Traffic patterns here are a bit different than home, to say the least. You can see I'm showing respect and deference to the military convoy by pointing my weapon away from them as they pass. We were stopped, otherwise I wouldn't have taken the picture.

A few interesting thing on the net this fine morning. Upon contemplation of the conflicts in Lebanon and recent events in London, some people haven't gotten it in their heads yet that people want to kill us. The hawks are growing tired of empty rhetoric, and I admit I share their concern. There's a fine column in the WaPo of a Marine officer describing the fundamental questions of counterinsurgency, and how we need to 'Learn from Hezbollah', in a sense. Assassination should be considered as well. Laughing Wolf at Blackfive addresses the problem of 'Children as Targets in War'- or something like that but not as nice, worth checking out for the Socratic dialogue alone.

Well, looks like I'll be on my way again here soon! Might be my last from Dar al Islam for a while!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Criticisms of the War in Iraq, part 11

Plenty to be had. As a supporter of the war (even if not at first, before it started), I encourage an honest and constructive critique (ie: not like yesterdays onanistic drivel). My critiques of the war have to do with the execution, a sluggishness to adapt, but I clearly think the overall strategic goal is worthwhile.

Being more familiar with the criticial institutions of the American war effort, maybe I see more clearly (debatable!) than an outsider would. And what I see is really smart people raising critiques, much of it being ignored to political expediency or other motives. Political influence by itself is not bad, in fact, it's a critical component of democratic governance- someone has to make decisions, filtering out just as much garbage from all sides. It's not easy to sort out the critiques when there are 20 competing at any one time for an official like Rumsfeld's attention, although easy to cherry-pick them in retrospect. Part of the process, though. I think the best at explaining the problems has been a libertarian one (1, 2)- the Pentagon is the 'Post Office with Nuclear Weapons' with all the bureaucratic baggage that entails. In a certain way, we've built the Pentagon to counter the bureaucratic Soviet threat of the Cold War, and in the time following the disintegration of the USSR, have not kept up with the winds of change.

Because when people see how they can take advantage of a poorly prepared obstacle, such as the US has been in the Middle East, they will. That's why you have to give credit to Hezbollah and the Middle Eastern countries who are currently enjoying their PR bonanza, despite some credible reporting of their difficulties, and of course the obvious bombing. We are in a difficult position nonetheless, as Israel fights Hezbollah (for us, in a not so subtle way), while we argue about it in Congress.

An interesting thing for me too, is the 'Long War' side of it. While Americas involvement in the Middle East is important, I think the more critical component is a sort of existential worry over the future of war and conflict in our lives, and the continuing traditions of the 'West'. We have decent ideas, like the concept of 'Just War' (with which I hold qualms- mostly on interpretation, but respect nonetheless). But the truth to me seems that civilization as we understand it, is worthless unless we can defend it against those who have 'less civilized' appetites (excellently summarized here by an Israeli general). And in the face of ongoing missile bombardment, some anti-war folks seem to change their tune, which is comforting to know that they're not all insane nihilists bent on the destruction of their own societies.

Anyhow, maybe that's a bit more focused than my previous post. Glad I could finally post that picture of my cheesy Baghdad hat I bought before I went home the last time, which I love. Y'all take it easy then.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Are we looking at the same thing?

I love columns like this: full of outrage at the supposed 'neocon' agenda and it's fruitless militarism. Look at these cherrypicked examples of the 'futility' of fighting those barbaric terrorists- an unnamed Israeli military official who says 'There is no military solution to this. Israel is under no illusion of defeating Hezbollah as a military foe.' A few logical hops and skips, then conclusion: the US is doomed to defeat in Iraq, just stop fighting. The money line is that America and Israel are 'trapped in the same kind of war, which they can't afford to lose but don't know how to win'.

I feel so much stupider after reading this trollop. Not only is it absolute circular post-modern pacifistic nonsense, but of the illusion that somehow you can stand aside and watch dispassionately like it doesn't affect you. (Angry run-on sentence alert) I see one of the major problems with the modern perception of war is exactly this kind of schizophrenic outlook: the media outlets of the day can give you previously unimagined up-close access to the action of fighting and it's grisly immediate details, but all the while maintaining the fundamental surreal detachment from this while you are observing back in the wealth and comfort of your convenient abode of choice.

Take this conclusion- 'can't afford to lose but don't know how to win'. This contradictory conclusion is exemplified by his statements in the 5th paragraph that ' war, it's not enough to justify, you also have to win.' The Islamic fundies have some good justifications in the moral relativistic sense too, y'know! We must be just the same as them! Now, it's pretty clear already that this guy thinks Iraq was a mistake, detailing the missteps the neocon Bush administration took to get us here. Fair one! What is your solution then? This, from the second coming of Napoleon (I assume!) that we are reading at the moment, who sees fit to lecture us on the way we fight our wars, doesn't see fit to condescend to teach us how to change our ways so we can win these otherwise 'unaffordable' losses. Well, fucking thanks for sharing then.

Hmmm... maybe I'm not fit to come back yet. Still need to learn a little bit of moderation, I think. I don't want to read more of this- wasting my time and yours, but I can't help myself! I really wonder why have these people so divorced themselves from the horrible realities of the world and the way we do war? If they do value things, like the values we hold dear that help us support our representative system of democratic government and the society supporting that with diverse religions and businesses, then shouldn't they be defended? And for certain places in the world, like the one I'm in at the moment, some harsh words from rich diplomats in New York doesn't really faze them.

I would love to see one of these guys explain to us how Israel made peace with Egypt and Jordan (hint- diplomacy wasn't the driving factor) and why it seems they can't with the 'Palestinians', or why Iran is so dangerous now (see Jimmy Carter, '79), and how the situation has changed in the intervening years. Actually, no, I wouldn't. Has there been any effective diplomacy without corresponding military action since Nixon's visit to China? Even that took place within the context of Vietnam, so maybe what I'm saying is something different. While I believe diplomacy can be effective, the modern perception of ceasefires and 'peacekeeping' (stifled laughs) has been poisonous to any longterm improvements in the state of the world. That's one of the major deficiencies I've seen here, it's almost as if the State department is trying to ignore this country/area and it'll just go away! If not, those military folks will just deal with it. That could be unfair, but that's how it seems at times and I wonder if there's anything to it.

So then we must win and I think the way to do that- since holding hands and singing 'Kumbaya' hasn't seemed to work so far- must be the second best alternative, which is the determination to destroy and humiliate your enemy while assisting your friends.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Back in the sane world

In that post-modern sense that this blog is all about, you know. It's an interesting time.

Just wanted to say that I don't know anything yet, but I'm safe and back (in Iraq, for those who might not have got the reference, haha). The jet lag was vicious this time, got stuck staying up all night the day prior. Anyhow, things are coming back to normal. Trying to wrap things up out here. Once the hours have rolled back in my internal clock, I'll be more able to think of something to say...